A report about a new robot barista has human workers on edge. As the machine managed to flawlessly serve 120 cups of coffee in an hour, it left many wondering if there’s going to be a place for people in the service industry once automation takes over.
According to Business Insider:
Trendy coffee roasters including Intelligentsia, Ritual, and Equator have partnered with Café X Technologies to create a $25,000 robot barista, CNBC reports. The robot, which operates as the sole barista in a San Francisco café, can make any drink you would expect at a standard trendy coffee shop, including espressos, flat whites, and cortados.
Investors, including the Thiel Foundation and well-known angel investor Jason Calacanis, have supplied Café X with $7 million in funding.
As AI and technologies get better, they’re beginning to spread all over the place. This contributes to the fear that robots are going to replace all lower-level workers, like in the case of the robot barista. After all, technology is cheaper, faster, and makes fewer mistakes.
“I don’t see 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,” says 24-year-old inventor Henry Hu.
Nothing in the shop costs more than $4, and most coffees are priced at $3, which the owners feel is cheap because of the lack of overhead costs. On the other hand, the average price for a cup of coffee across the U.S. is about $2.70, so Cafe X isn’t too far off from regular prices. You might even want to pay a little more to watch a robot barista make your drink.
“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. 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,” Calacanis said to CNBC.
This isn’t the first time an interesting robot caused a panic – there’s a general fear that the job market will go south once more technology is introduced. A 2017 report found that technology will replace many workers, especially in the retail sector, in the next 10 years.
Automation also spells trouble for the fast food industry. Most McDonalds around the world have rolled out self-service touch screens, and when they were installed, many publications spread the same fear. While employment data couldn’t be found for the last two years, Business Insider reported that several analysts found that employment rates didn’t drop. McDonald’s still has people behind the counter, and rather than laying off employees, gave them different tasks, like table service.
Other businesses plan to incorporate similar automation into their service process. While robots like the robot barista may continue to make their way into the service industry, most experts predict that technology will transform the service sector, and there will still be a place for humans in the job market.