Mar 29, 2022 - Technology

The hamburger vending machine has arrived

A woman standing at a hamburger vending machine
Meet the 6-minute burger grilled by robotic hands in a mall. Photo courtesy of RoboBurger.

We found a pizza vending machine. There are plenty of cupcake vending machines out there. Now, it is the hamburger's time.

Why it matters: As more of our favorite foods are pressed into service as insert-a-coin-and-wait-for-it items, will the shopping mall food court ever be the same?

  • Goodbye, fast-food labor costs.

Driving the news: A company called RoboBurger sells a machine that will make you a burger with custom toppings — from "grass and vegetarian fed 100% Angus beef, always antibiotic-free, raised with no artificial growth hormones" — in 6 minutes for $6.99.

  • Not just a vending machine, the RoboBurger is "a whole kitchen shoved into 12 square feet," Dan Braido, co-founder of the company, tells NorthJersey.com, a news site.
  • The first one was just installed in the Newport Centre Mall in Jersey City. The company sees the next RoboBurgers going to bars, college campuses, airports, hospitals, rest stops, etc.
  • "The touch screen allows you to order a classic burger with ketchup, mustard and cheese, or customize the burger to remove any of those ingredients if you choose," NorthJersey.com says.

How it works: RoboBurger, which calls its contraption a "chef in a box," says its mechanical culinary artist "goes through five distinct operations while cooking the burger, mimicking the process chefs use in real restaurants."

  • First, the robot places the patty on a griddle and grills it on both sides.
  • It toasts the bun and adds the condiments.
  • Then it assembles the burger and delivers it to the diner in a cute cardboard box.

The company says its machine "is equipped with a complex, miniature kitchen consisting of a refrigeration system to keep ingredients fresh, a griddle to cook and a dishwasher system to allow the unit to self-clean, making it the first machine of its kind."

  • RoboBurger says it's "the only hot food vending machine certified by the National Sanitary Foundation to the highest U.S. food safety regulations."

Of note: RoboBurger isn't the only hamburger vending machine on the market. A company called Botast says that its Smart Burger Vending Machine is the first, and a Google search shows that there are other machines that seem to be in use in Japan and China.

Go deeper