Job openings may be at an all-time high, but that doesn’t mean fear of automation is dwindling.
Now, news is spreading of a $25,000 robot barista that has major potential to disrupt the retail industry.
The robot barista can make over 100 drinks an hour, and that includes all those fancy beverages that extend past your typical drip coffee. Espressos, flat whites, cortados – you name it, the robot can make it.
As it becomes increasingly clear that artificial intelligence can perform many of the routine tasks that retail employees perform, companies are starting to invest in the potential of robot labor.
According to a 2017 report, between 6 and 7.5 million retail jobs could become automated in the coming years.
According to CNBC Reports, high end coffee roasters – including Intelligentsia and Equator – are all partnering with Café X Technologies to create this $25,000 robot barista. The robot currently works as the only barista at a café in San Francisco, and can make any of the drinks you would expect to be able to order at a trendy coffee shop.
Automation Provides Numerous Benefits to Coffee Drinkers
Twenty-four year old inventor Henry Hu told CNBC that he doesn’t think of the robot revolution as a problem. “The idea isn’t to scare you or harm you in any way. The point is to get you your coffee as quickly and deliciously as possible.”
Of course, automation provides numerous additional benefits to coffee drinkers. Without labor costs, cafes can keep prices down – i.e. no more complaints about shelling out $7 for an Americano. There’s also no need for customers to tip the robot barista.
“The idea of humans making coffee for 10 hours a day is as crazy in 2018 as a tollbooth collector sitting in a metal box on a freeway,” angel investor Jason Calacanis told CNBC. “It’s also torture for the customer. Baristas get orders wrong, drink quality is wildly inconsistent, and coffee places don’t keep a record of every customer’s past drink order – but you can do all this with robotics.
Investors, including the Thiel Foundation and well-known angel investor Jason Calacanis, have supplied Café X with $7 million in funding.
And the incentive for these trendy coffee roasters is even clearer when you factor in labor costs with minimum wage rising.
It’s not just coffee roasters. Major fast food chains like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Panera are all investing in mobile orders and kiosks, which are positions typically filled by cashiers. And smaller chains like CaliBurger and Eatsa are working on automating the whole restaurant experience. “As we see the rising costs of labor, it just makes sense,” said CEO of Jack in the Box Leonard Comma.
Many retail and restaurant executives are viewing automation as a necessity for their survival. But that also means wiping out a large chunk of jobs that people turn to in times when unemployment rises.
Data Source: businessinsider.com