Will Robotics Change the Quick Service Industry One Day?

By Bijan Shahrokhi in Quick Service

I am a big fan of finding simple applications to some of the great technology that’s out there. The trick is to find a balance between innovation and continuing existing operations.

The fast food industry has always been an interesting industry to me. There are lots of tasks that are mechanical and repetitive and they cost a lot. In fact, 30% of a fast food business’s cost is manual labor.

I came across a company a few months ago that really caught my attention. If you have an iRobot vacuum cleaner at home, you will be excited to hear that the founder of iRobot is now on a new mission to revolutionize the manufacturing industry. His new company, Rethink Robotics, has created a phenomenally simple to use and low price (compared to the other ones in the market) robot called Baxter. This robot doesn’t even need any programming to work. You just grab its hand, show it what needs to be done, and it learns to do it. What’s more interesting is that it doesn’t just do a mechanical job. It uses 100’s of sensors to determine the location of the item it is lifting up, its weight, color, size, etc so if the item’s location is moved or the lighting has changed, it can still find it and complete the job. Check out the “Meet Baxter” video:

Rethink Robotics is focused on bringing Baxter to the manufacturing industry today. As their robot becomes more advanced and easier to use, it can find its way into the fast food industry. Imagine all the efficiencies you can bring to your business if you could have some of the mechanical tasks like cutting raw food, cooking, moving food contaiters around, washing dishes, etc be done by a robot that does a great job? I know this sounds too futuristic and we are probably a decade away from it but I have no doubt that many of you fast food operators will be seriously thinking about hiring some type of robot to work for you in a decade or so.

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