You have to check out Momentum Machines, home of the alpha machine, the first fast-food burger making robot that custom mixes and grinds the meat, slices the vegetables, applies the toppings and cooks every order to perfection at a rate of 360 per hour. The company is based in San Francisco and launched its first demonstration alpha machine in the summer.
Now the next step is to build a restaurant chain largely run by its intelligent robot and license the technology to other restaurateurs, convenience store, vending machine and mobile food service operators.
The team at Momentum have a background in mechanical engineering, physics and electronics with a heavy dose of robotics and artificial intelligence.
So How Does it Work?
Diners order their custom-built hamburger through a computer display. They pick from a menu selection that includes items like tomatoes, pickles, onions, lettuce, toasted or untoasted buns, toppings and of course the type of meat desired. For example a diner may prefer a mix of beef and bison, or pork and beef, or veal and chicken. The alpha machine grinds and mixes the meats, assembles the burger and even bags it. The technology can even handle different sized buns. And operators can customize portion sizes. Momentum plans to add other items to the menu including chicken and fish sandwiches.
The technology cleans itself to ensure that the “handling” of food remains safe from the hamburger build to the consumer hand off. No stray hairs from employees, no worrying about your hamburger maker having washed his or her hands after using the bathroom. No margin of error on preparation, cooking and completion. And the inevitable advantage to operators, enormous cost savings in hourly wages for staffing, as much as $135,000 per year.
What Are They Thinking?
When primary manufacturing jobs migrated overseas in the last decades of the 20th century, the experts talked about an economy built on two types of work: high intellectual value, highly customized products and services, and an economy of hamburger flippers and fast food slingers. But Momentum may be knocking the bottom out of that economic model should it become more than a pilot project backed by a hardware incubator, Lemnos Labs, also located in San Francisco. Check out the other start up companies Lemnos is funding. They represent disruptive 21st century technological innovation as well and you may soon see some of these companies providing products and services where you live and work. But none will impact the world of where you eat out quite like Momentum.