From Bellhops to Burger Flippers, Robots Look to Steal Even More Jobs
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The Fiscal Times
August 13, 2014

Hotel rooms for the introverts among us are an anti-social haven. Nothing beats a hot shower, followed by settling into a freshly made bed in a terrycloth robe to watch mediocre television with a glass of wine. No one bothers you and for an exquisite moment in time, you have nary a care in the world.

Then the realization hits. You’ve forgotten your toothbrush at home! You’re going to have to call the snooty concierge. You’re going to have to smile and tip and say thank you. You’ll have to deal with people.

Related: The Rise of Robots and the Decline of Jobs Is Here

This conundrum is soon to be extinct, though, if Starwood hotels’ latest idea catches on.

The chain of hotels has introduced the Botlr (the name is a cringe-worthy hybrid of ‘robot’ and ‘butler’), a three-foot tall service robot designed by California startup Savioke. Designed to evoke the tux-wearing butlers of old, this high-tech helper is dispatched by a human bellman after a customer calls the front desk. It then navigates its way through the hotels’ maze of corridors and elevators to bring critical sundries to your door. Crisis averted.

SLIDESHOW: 12 Jobs We're Losing To Robots

Like the pizza drone and the Dutch gas pump jockey before it, this newest tech wonder looks to be another item in a long list of robots that threatens to crush jobs and wreak poverty among workers, only to become a minor marketing gimmick.

Even Starwood execs are remaining somewhat reserved on the matter: “It is certainly not replacing our staff, but it is augmenting our ability to service our customers,” Brian McGuinness, senior vice president for Starwood’s Aloft line of hotels, told CNBC, adding that he only foresees one or two Botlrs at most per hotel.

Looking a little more threatening, though, is the new unnamed burger-bot from Momentum Machines. Supposedly able to produce an entire burger from prep to finish, this robot stamps out the patties, slices tomatoes and onions, cooks the patties in a specialized oven, then bags the finalized burger – all in record time.

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Sounds complicated. But perhaps not as difficult as the robotic Sushi chefs that have become the darlings of a chain of fast food sushi restaurants in Japan.

The creators of this burger-bot estimate that this machine can get through about 360 burgers an hour, according to a press release from its creator – far more than the average minimum-wage fast-food worker eyeing the clock before break time.

There’s no beat-around-the-bush PR with this one, either. Momentum co-founder Alexandros Vardakostas intends to take over the entire fast food world. As he told Xconomy: “Our device isn’t meant to make employees more efficient… It’s meant to completely obviate them.”

We’ll see.

For now, though, check out this list of other jobs robots are stealing from us (with varying degrees of efficiency).

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Born and raised in South Africa, Andrew Lumby is The Fiscal Times' Technical Producer. He also writes about gaming, entertainment and technology.