New York Times, 1987: Robot Chef Cooks Hamburgers

Image by Dean Hollingsworth/DMN

The hamburger robot here hits peak speed at three burgers a minute; a busy restaurant needs to produce 20 to 30 burgers a minute, Mr. Schowalter said. In addition, he said: "Fast-food operations are fighting each other with diversity of product. Sure, you can make a hamburger" using a robot, he said, but he added: "What can you do it if suddenly it's the croissant that is moving this year?"

David L. Brenholt, the president of Translab in Menomonie, which designed and built the hamburger-flipping robot at a cost of $20,000, said that although the machine can make only hamburgers, it can be reprogrammed to make various kinds, like ones with multiple patties.

The robot looks like a flat oven with conveyor belts running through and an arm attached at the end. A red light indicates when a worker should slide in a patty and bun, which bob along in the heat for 1 minute 52 seconds. When they reach the other side of the machine, photo-optic sensors indicate when they can be assembled.

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