The battle of paying a $15 minimum wage — especially to workers in the fast-food industry — is stoking the fires of companies asking if they need those human workers at all.
Meals of the future will be made and delivered by robots, likely sooner than we think.
The Washington Post took a fascinating look at how rising costs — particularly labor, food and real estate — are making many restaurant owners look for ways to automate kitchens and service with robots to save money. Cutting $15 per hour salaries out of the picture might be the easiest cut of all.
Washington, D.C., is one of the latest cities looking at implementing the $15 minimum wage rule.
“About 30 percent of the restaurant industry’s costs come from salaries, so burger-flipping robots — or at least super-fast ovens that expedite the process — become that much more cost-competitive if the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is doubled,” reports the Post.
They add: “Many chains are already at work looking for ingenious ways to take humans out of the picture, threatening workers in an industry that employs 2.4 million wait staffers, nearly 3 million cooks and food preparers and many of the nation’s 3.3 million cashiers.”
Of course, Seattle’s already wrangling with our own newly implemented $15 minimum wage hike law. Just this week, the Washington State Supreme court ruled that Sea-Tac, operated by the Port of Seattle, had to honor the City of Sea-Tac’s minimum wage hike, according to King 5.
The Post writes that franchisers are “aggressively looking” to technology for ways to cut costs. And much of that involves replacing humans with automation. That can involve anything from sushi-rolling robots, to kiosks that take your order front of the house, and drones that deliver pizza.
However, because it is the hospitality industry, some restaurant owners are still worried about delivering a “personalized” experience. It will be fairly interesting to see how that plays out.
Last week, we took at a look at the service robots that MIT was working on. Even those developers said that their BeerBots could someday take over serving food and drink in establishments.
UK Domino’s already posted a video of a drone delivering pizza two years ago. Food by robot is closer than we think: