Society

Ex-McDonald's CEO: Robots Cheaper Than Staff (Video)

| by Nik Bonopartis
RoboChefRoboChef

Robots could replace human beings when it comes to flipping burgers and making fries, according to a former McDonald's CEO (video below).

Ed Rensi, who led the fast food giant as its CEO and president from 1965 until 1999, said the push for a national $15 per hour minimum wage would be catastrophic for the job market and spur companies to find ways to automate tasks.

“I was at the National Restaurant Show yesterday," Rensi told Fox Business. "And if you look at the robotic devices that are coming into the restaurant industry -- it’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who’s inefficient making $15 an hour bagging french fries. It’s nonsense and it’s very destructive and it’s inflationary and it’s going to cause a job loss across this country like you’re not going to believe."

Rensi was referring to technologies like RoboChef, a collaboration between Britain's 2011 Master Chef winner Tim Anderson and Moley Robotics. The machine can reportedly learn 2,000 recipes, and the way it prepares meals is modeled after Anderson's own movements, the company says in the video (below).

A video from the National Restaurant Show depicts RoboChef in action, simulating jobs currently done by humans in fast food restaurants -- the machine's robotic arms dip baskets into deep fryers, handle plates and stir sauce on stovetops.

A 2015 story about an entirely robot-staffed McDonald's in Arizona was a fake, but restaurants in countries like Japan and China are already turning to non-human staff. At Haohai Robot Restaurant in China, a robot host greets diners, robot waiters take orders, and robot chefs prepare meals, according to PC Magazine. Other restaurants use robots behind the scenes to prepare meals and ingredients, the magazine reported.

California and New York are pushing to become the first two states to hike the minimum wage to $15 per hour, according to The Wall Street Journal. The ink is already dry on the New York legislation, which will raise the minimum wage to $15 in New York City by 2019, while allowing a few more years for the rest of the state to catch up.

In his interview with Fox Business, Rensi said low-wage workers "have to grow" and learn additional skills, because the push for higher minimum wages will eliminate their jobs.

"Well if you can’t get people a reasonable wage, you’re going to get machines to do the work," Rensi told the network. "It’s just common sense. It’s going to happen whether you like it or not. And the more you push this it’s going to happen faster."

Sources: Fox Business, Wall Street Journal, PC Magazine / Photo credit: Pacific Digital Signs/YouTube

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