Sunday, January 12, 2020

The robot bubble is bursting.

Some of San Francisco's robot-run restaurants are failing. It could simply be that we still want to be served by humans, not machines.

People think that robots are these magical beings that are better at doing things than humans and never need service. There has been trouble brewing in this sector since at least summer. Robots break down ALL the time. And while they do repetitive tasks well, they just don't do them as fast or efficiently as humans. I'm not even sure they do them as cost efficiently as humans honestly.

I have been sitting on a story for weeks about ZUME Pizza which I have never understood. But I try to bitch about stuff less in December. While I am not religious - even I try to give things a rest for one month.

Anyway. I read in November they were getting rid of their robots. Then while I was at CES I heard the had laid off 80% of their staff. Meanwhile just in November the media was still bragging about how much money investors were still pouring into this company. Thankfully they were not around long enough to start putting other pizza places out of business. Because Zume was another one of those companies that was losing to win. They were in no way profitable.

I have never understood the Zume Pizza robot story. Pizza restaurants margins are so razor thin. And robot arms are not cheap. I tried to hunt down a pizza making robot at CES just so I could mock it. Any time I see a robot with hands I just laugh because each hand is 50 grand! FOR JUST ONE HAND. 100 grand for two hands.

So, whatever your robot is doing, it has to return more than 100 grand right off the top!



  1. Maybe those newly unemployed robots can work off their welfare checks by cleaning the side-walks. Flame-throwers would work to simultaneously sterilize the side-walk and prevent any future occurrences should they catch one in the act.

    Seriously though, how much are the restaurant closures due to poor economics due to high capital cost/ongoing O&M/order time/food quality and people not wanting to eat in places where they have to watch where they step?


  2. I would just die the first time I see a robot panhandling.