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Hamburger-making machine churns out custom burgers at industrial speeds

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November 25, 2012

A hamburger made using Momentum Machines' automated hamburger maker

A hamburger made using Momentum Machines' automated hamburger maker

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Hamburgers are a multi-billion dollar business, and while fast food chains have got the process down to an efficient production line process, making them is still labor intensive with armies of burger flippers and sandwich assemblers. In a move that could put millions of teenagers around the world out of their first job, Momentum Machines is creating a hamburger-making machine that churns out made-to-order burgers at industrial speeds and aims to use it in its own chain of restaurants.

According to Momentum Machines, making burgers costs US$9 billion a year in wages in the United States alone. The company points out that a machine that could make burgers with minimum human intervention would not only provide huge savings in labor costs, but would also reduce preparation space with a burger kitchen replaced by a much smaller and cheaper stainless-steel box.

The hamburger-making machine

This self-contained, automatic device sees raw ingredients go in one end and the completed custom-made burgers come out the other at the rate of up to 400 per hour. The machine stamps out the patties, uses what the company says are "gourmet cooking techniques never before used in a fast food restaurant,” applies the toppings (which are cut only after ordering to ensure freshness), and even bags the burgers.

The company plans to open its first restaurant in the near future and to market the machines to third parties, arguing that one can pay pay for itself inside of a year. The company is targeting restaurants, convenience stores, food trucks and vending machine applications. In the meantime, the device is still undergoing development with a feature to allow for custom-ground and mixed beef to be included in the next generation.

Source: Momentum Machines via Foodbeast

About the Author
David Szondy David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past.   All articles by David Szondy
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25 Comments

Mmmmmmmm..... making me hungry........ ;)

Those buns look a bit burnt though - I hope they'll work on that. All in all, though, a very cool machine!

mooseman
25th November, 2012 @ 09:17 pm PST

This was bound to happen, I even thought of this idea also. I just feel bad for the kids who'll lose their jobs because of this machine. Though it is drudge work.

John Stone
25th November, 2012 @ 10:31 pm PST

Agreed, John.

There seems to be almost **no** job in which humans can't be replaced by machines.

Although flipping burgers isn't the greatest job, it has given countless tens of thousands of people money to get by.

mooseman
25th November, 2012 @ 11:14 pm PST

cool, I worked at burger king in my teenage years, although I was a cashier not a cook. I think this machine will sell very well.

Like many cool future technologies/innovations, this will put more people out of a job (like the article said), but at least it will employ "some" of those people to build the machines, and fix them when they break.

The biggest threat to jobs I think would be 3D printing, imagine a world where almost anything you want, would be printed at your own home. Whether that be a part to fix your truck, or a burger & a milkshake.

I think the job market will look vastly different 50 years from now, with various machines, robots, and 3D printers,

I question what will future people do...

Derek Howe
25th November, 2012 @ 11:33 pm PST

Don't worry about the kids, when our society has finally removed all menial tasks the kids will stop having to be degraded with minimum wage and instead be a bit more innovative, starting their own burger businesses instead of working for some other tyrant!

This is great, as it means I can start a business with lower risk, no worry about sick staff,etc...

Although I'll still need to pop in and fill up the inputs frequently at 400 burgers/hour.

Hell, this might even replace the wife!

livin_the_dream
25th November, 2012 @ 11:40 pm PST

@ John stone / Mooseman, imo you should not feel bad about this, unavoidable as with every other job that will get automation replacement as well. This is progress, and will finally liberate humans from labor.

Arc
26th November, 2012 @ 03:31 am PST

@Arc,

Its all very well having machines to 'liberate humans from Labour', but here's the problem.

Without jobs people do not earn, so do not have the money to spend on relatively expensive luxuries like fast food. Whilst, as has already been stated, working in a burger bar isn't exactly the most rewarding of pursuits, it is very often the first experience that many teens have of the world of work, and so provides useful experience.

Apart from that, it is good to have some kind of human involvement in the purchase of food- especially in this modern world where there is so much less one-to-one human interaction, with so many ways to shut fellow humans out of one's attention with mobile devices, social media (which may be enabling on one level but which is mostly done remotely from other humans). Kids don't seem to play out on the streets anymore and are ferried from place to place by parents as they are locked into their own personal media- such as DVD displays built in the back of the headrests so children don't have to look out the windows at the world around them. Replacing burger making with a glorified vending machine is one more step towards the slippery slope that we are on in removing our fellow humans from everyday interactions.

Brave new world? The Developed World is fast turning into a dystopean de-humanised zone that was once the stuff of science fiction.

I don't want fries with that, thank you very much.

bergamot69
26th November, 2012 @ 08:06 am PST

This was an inevitable advance in technology - for those lamenting the loss of peasant-labor jobs what will you say when iRobot (or someone) announces a strawberry-picking robot?

We are at a tipping point, though - the old rule of "don't worry, the folks replaced by this technology will find jobs we can't imagine today" will no longer be true. Yes, there will be jobs we cannot imagine in 10 years time, but they will require high levels of skill/education/intelligence which the majority of folks will not have.

So the real question is - how to change society in such a way that labor for income no longer takes center stage in life? You sci-fi fans ought to ponder the world of, say, Star Trek - at a time when you can walk up to a vending machine and ask for "Earl Grey Tea, hot" or for that matter "Rolex Seamaster Professional" and get what you ask for, the notion of jobs as we have always known them will evaporate.

Perhaps people will "do their time" in those jobs that cannot be automated (police, medicine, whatever) but after their 5 year stint will be allowed to "go forth and self-realize" - write poetry, explore the stars, sit back and get stoned, anything. And some will want to invent/discover/learn new things as well.

But the really big question is - how will we get from here (capitalism: rewards for building a better mousetrap) to there? The authors of "Race Against the Machine" (which talks about this) have some solutions that, to me, ain't gonna work.

Bob Fately
26th November, 2012 @ 10:41 am PST

burnt? Looks just right to me... Also doesnt look like someone sat on it before they serve it up like every other fast food burger ive ever been served. The good thing about something like this, is I imagine they can adjust cook times - so even at a fast food joint you could order a "medium" or "medium well" burger and get just that.

Kiss all those minimum wage jobs good-bye... better start learning robot repair :)

Nick Thompson
26th November, 2012 @ 03:02 pm PST

Now if it could only eat it for me too. But then if it ate too many burgers would the machine get bigger?

Mark A
26th November, 2012 @ 10:03 pm PST

In terms of losing jobs - surely other low paid menial jobs will just increase to take their place? These machines make cheaper meals, so could lead to a large increase in home delivery by students on mopeds. Or if these machines increase the scale/table turn of food outlets then more cleaners and table wipers?

And that's without considering all the other growth that could take place in the service sector.

As for the comment about reducing human interaction - SERIOUSLY! Apart from a terse 'no' when asked if you want to 'max' or go large with your junk food, are you really having a conversation of any worth.....?

JPAR
27th November, 2012 @ 06:04 am PST

Can it put a fried egg on the burger? Then you would really have something

danBran
27th November, 2012 @ 01:22 pm PST

An egg and a hamburger in one sandwich- that's too much cholesterol. I eat fast food a few times a week. If I could choose between machine-made to perfection, or man-made by unskilled, low-income manual labor- I'll pick automation every time, and that's not dumb.

Charles H
27th November, 2012 @ 06:10 pm PST

Between this and those DARPA terminator robots, we're all seriously screwed. It'll be dystopia for sure, complete with robot overlords, while the 1% remains in their palaces on the hilltops. We'll all be enslaved as miners or something terribly physical to keep the huge populations downtrodden and easier to rule.

Barring a revolution there is simply no way to free up the enormous financial resources that the richest are holding hostage in all nations of the world, much less the worst oligarchs like America. Resources that could make a much more equal society where people could work fewer years, then wrote poetry as suggested above. Although there still may not be enough monetary pie to truly bring the entire developed population into a more Star Trek-ian utopia.

David Storfer
28th November, 2012 @ 06:58 am PST

Actually, it will increase sanitary conditions, require at least one, maybe two, operators, and require maintenance and repair techs, much like 3D printers and robotic sewing machines are already requiring.

machinephilosophy
28th November, 2012 @ 03:32 pm PST

Not sure I want my burger popping out of a conveyor system with what amounts to oily bicycle chains next to the burger as pictured. Love burgers, just not lightly coated with oil.

David Armstrong
8th April, 2013 @ 09:06 am PDT

You'll need to pay engineer to keep it running for 30 bucks an hour to do what 2 employees could do for $8 an hour. And what do you do when it breaks? Every machine has down time; have fun trying to get regular customers when they experience one of your down time episodes.

Ron Lane
5th August, 2013 @ 06:29 pm PDT

I dunno. The burger in the photo looks like it's been mistreated. I think the system needs further refinement before I have one installed at the pad.

Dan Lewis
17th September, 2013 @ 10:48 am PDT

The loss of jobs and such was probably the same thing people said at the start of the industrial revolution. Ponder having to eke out an existence on a plot of land doing back breaking work 18 hours a day. I for one am thankful for progress. As far as menial jobs go these will just continue to evaporate. The youth of this nation need to start educating themselves or be left behind.

Smitty Jl
9th December, 2013 @ 10:00 am PST

I might actually buy fast food on occasion if it's made by a machine. No worries about what the adolescent cook felt would be amusing to sneak into someones food for the night.

GeoMoon5
11th December, 2013 @ 07:35 pm PST

You could add in these Automats and you would have a great Combo..

Automat

They are all over In the netherlands, and they have a pretty big franchise callede Febo and Smullers :)

Tommy Jensen
6th February, 2014 @ 10:56 am PST

Well if a machine CAN make a burger that actually looks anywhere near as good as the one in the photo, and not like some slop in a bun, im sorry but the kids can go walk. ...and now they're going to spit in my next burger too. Would a machine spit oil? Maybe.

Chris Winter
6th February, 2014 @ 07:14 pm PST

Sign me up for one. I can make burgers in my house all day long and sell them to golfers as they go by. Just put an ordering screen at the tee box on the previous hole and have it ready when they pass by.

Chris Twining
16th May, 2014 @ 05:09 pm PDT

Hopefully this burger machine won't get bits of chopped onion on my sandwich when I order it without onions. Fast food workers often don't get all the onion bits off their gloves when the get a no onion order.

With the push for raising minimum wage in the USA to $11 to $15 an hour, these machines will sell.

Minimum wage has driven inflation, ever since they were first enacted in New Zealand and the USA in 1938.

Every time the minimum wage goes up, the people who were making above it expect a commensurate increase now that their formerly above minimum is now the new minimum.

It goes up the ladder all the way and all it ends up doing is making everything cost more and/or jobs going away and that cycle has been going for 76 years.

If a business wants to hold the line on prices after a forced wage hike, costs MUST be reduced. Fewer employees have to individually do more work or even fewer will keep their jobs due to positions being replaced by automatic machinery.

Machinery can work around the clock, needs no medical care or insurance and can work at low or high temperatures where people cannot work at all or can work only with expensive protection equipment.

The cost driver just above labor at the bottom of the economy is energy. Raise wages and rather soon everyone in the energy industry expects a raise, and the same rule applies. Their expense goes directly into increased energy prices and the increased cost of energy "doubles down" with increased labor cost to make everything else cost more.

The most dramatic effect of replacing labor with automation is in the electronics industry. Very few of the appliances and electronic gadgets now are touched by a human hand until the buyer takes them out of the package. Machines mold housings, etch circuit boards, make and encapsulate the microchips, solder them to the boards, drive screws and apply glue then shove the finished item into its package. All for speed, accuracy and because people have made themselves cost too #$^^# much to be able to manufacture these things at a price where people will buy them.

Yet despite such easy to see cause and effect, the people pushing for a big raise in the minimum (and thus all others) wage claim it is completely the other way around. Businesses are just raising prices at will and whim so wages have to go up.

Gregg Eshelman
25th August, 2014 @ 08:41 pm PDT

No chance of this spitting on your food.

Ronald Dykeman
6th September, 2014 @ 11:41 am PDT
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