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These fast food jobs are going to robots


Flippy is making burgers, Chippy is cooking french fries, and Remy is serving up salads. Customers may not even notice them, but robots are becoming more common behind the counter at fast food kitchens.

At Food Republic, a quick-service joint in Vancouver, Remy looks like a giant stainless steel box. Inside, it receives the order to portion out each salad ingredient. Cucumbers tumble down a tube into a takeout bowl, which then moves along a conveyor belt to collect the next topping.

Ashkan Mirnabavi is cofounder of Canadian robotics startup Cibotica, which designed Remy using artificial intelligence and machine learning. He describes it as an automated assembly line that can make as many as 300 salads an hour. “Each ingredient is dispensed accurately and precisely because of that core technology,” he said.

Ashkan Mirnabavi is co-founder of Vancouver robotics startup Cibotica, which created the salad assembly robot Remy.
Ashkan Mirnabavi is co-founder of Vancouver robotics startup Cibotica, which created the salad assembly robot Remy. (Nicholas Allan/CBC)

A former restaurateur himself, Mirnabavi said Remy could help businesses create consistency, chop customer wait times, and cut labour costs by 33 percent. Cibotica allow clients to “hire” Remy for a monthly subscription fee and he said the demand is promising.

“We’ve received a lot of inquiries and purchase orders from companies in the U.S. and Canada.”

Remy is far from the only robot in fast-food kitchens. As companies grapple with staff shortages and seek to cut costs, more big chains are turning to automation to make food faster and cheaper.

WATCH | These robots are coming for restaurant jobs: 

The robots are coming… for restaurant jobs

Fast food companies are investing big in AI and robots to do many of the repetitive tasks of restaurant workers, especially in the face of a post-pandemic worker shortage.

Robots on the rise

Since the pandemic, fewer people have wanted the fast-paced and demanding jobs on the restaurant sector’s front lines.

By 2021, more than 250,000 restaurant workers had quit to find new careers, according to a report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Flippy is a robot developed by Miso Robotics in California.
Flippy is a robot developed by Miso Robotics in California. (Miso Robotics)

Amid those staff shortages, labour costs have also been rising. Companies have looked for solutions fill the gap, and many of them are designed to replace human workers on the assembly line. 

Domino’s is running trials with a pizza-making machine at one of its locations in Berlin. White Castle has implemented giant mechanical arms to flip burgers (nicknamed Flippy) and cook french fries (Chippy) at locations across the U.S. At a pilot restaurant in Fort Worth, Texas, it’s nearly all robots serving McDonald’s customers.

American salad outlet Sweetgreen is going all in. In 2023, CEO Jonathan Neman told investors that he expects every location to be automated in five years.

Making fast food faster

Chipotle Mexican Grill is buying in too, testing a few options that could roll out in its Canadian locations later this year.

“They can do the same task over and…



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