Burritobox Joins Growing Number of Fast-Food Making Robots

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burritobox-burrito-robotBox Brands has launched the first-ever burrito-making robots at two locations on Santa Monica Boulevard —  inside Mobile and 76 gas stations.

The orange Burritobox offers 6 types of burrito, including a breakfast burrito, and several sauces. The customer selects the burrito desired and which sauces from a touch-screen menu, then swipes a credit card. One minute later, the machine dispenses a hot “hand”-rolled burrito.

Box Brands, a Florida-based company founded in 2011, is marketing the robot to gas stations, corner stores and other small merchants. The machine’s touchscreen menu conveniently — or not so conveniently, depending on how you look at it — displays a commercial while the burrito is made.

burritoboxWelcome to the 21st century, where the revenue plan for widgets is advertising for other widgets.

“Brands now have an opportunity to interact with the consumer right before they have a chance to buy their products. Partnering with us gives you a captive audience as well as a live presence inside high traffic locations where you can better affect the choices consumers make,” Box Brands promises.

Gas-station quality burritos may not be the sexiest use of automation technology, but the Burritobox joins a growing number of fast food-making robots.

If you’re a straight-up burger kind of eater, Momentum Machines can serve up 360 per hour, toppings included. Prefer pizza? Italian Let’s Pizza’s pizza-making bot serves up pies cooked in an infrared oven in less than three minutes. Like Burritobox, Let’s Pizza also vies for spots in high-traffic areas including gas stations.

Pending FAA approval for commercial drones, one mainstream U.S. pizzeria will be ready to deliver its pies by drone.

Asia is ahead in automation of food service: Consumers there can enjoy noodles sliced by robot or sushi featuring rice balls made by SushiBots.

Curiously, each of the companies identifies different benefits of robot-made food. Burritobox claims to offer a healthier alternative to the Hot Cheetos and candy usually on offer at gas stations. Burger-maker Momentum Machines goes farther, suggesting that when restaurateurs save on labor they can invest in fresher, healthier ingredients.

Several of the fast-food bot-makers also emphasize that their devices can serve more consumers per hour than mere humans could. So these boxy bots could find a place at outdoor festivals. With the number of foods on offer, food-prep robots are also well positioned to wipe out the entire food court at the local mall.

Photos: Ryan Michael via Wikimedia Commons, The Box Brands

Cameron Scott

Cameron received degrees in Comparative Literature from Princeton and Cornell universities. He has worked at Mother Jones, SFGate and IDG News Service and been published in California Lawyer and SF Weekly. He lives, predictably, in SF.

Discussion — 3 Responses

  • nlx1 January 11, 2014 on 6:25 pm

    Someone still has to manually restock these machines when they run out of ingredients. Unless a replaceable module is developed that can be delivered by aerial drone, that was packed in an automated warehouse, supplied by robotic trucks… The main problem I see with this is that people will make a mess in the delivery area of the machine and it will not necessarily be able to clean itself. So I can just imagine all these disused and unattended machines sitting around at service stations covered in dried out cheese and hardened splashes of sauce. People will have the same reluctance to use them as the public restroom nearby, yet there will be little other option if you are hungry. Risk your health or starve? Just buy a bag of candies instead? Nice choice.

  • Joe Nickence January 12, 2014 on 1:39 am

    “With the number of foods on offer, food-prep robots are also well positioned to wipe out the entire food court at the local mall.” This is true. This is a glass half empty/half full issue. Small village strip malls can put a line of these at the end of the strip, and with a couple of picnic tables, you have a mini food court. Or not even strip malls. A shelter can be built in a park for a half dozen of these things. Any location where people gather regularly, basically.

  • Rico Larroque January 12, 2014 on 9:45 pm