Apr 28, 2023 - Food and Drink

Sam's Club tests automation with a burger-making robot

My robot-made lunch. Photo: Alex Golden/Axios

I ventured to the Fayetteville Sam's Club on Thursday to see their latest technological advancements — a robot that serves hot lunch in mere minutes.

Driving the news: The robot is the first in a Sam's Club location, though one was initially placed in the cafeteria at the company's home office.

Between the lines: The innovation isn't really about expanding the café menu, which doesn't typically boast burgers, Tim Simmons, Sam's Club senior vice president and chief product officer, told Axios. It's more about experimenting with robotics and automation and looking at how the company can add technology to its operation.

  • The concept was developed by an internal team, dubbed Network 32, that focuses on innovating five years out.

How it works: The machine grinds up beef, cuts it into patties, cooks them, adds seasoning, dispenses sauces and plops the burger onto a bun, Jonathan Saffian of Network 32 explained.

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Alex Golden/Axios
  • Employees add other toppings, although the goal is for the process to be fully automated.

What's next: The company will continue the robot experiment at its Fayetteville store through June.

  • Sam's Club does not currently have plans to put the burger-making robots in other stores, Simmons said.

The verdict: The burger holds up, especially for $5. It's juicy and flavorful. I went with the California Classic, which comes with Thousand Island dressing, smoked cheddar cheese, pickles, tomatoes and onions on a brioche bun.

  • You can order from the scan-and-go app while you're shopping and customize your burger.

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