As anyone with internet access or any semblance of awareness knows, automation and robotics are steadily taking over most industries in the world -- fast food being no exception.
Last year the Pizza ATM hit the campus of Xavier University, with plans to expand in the US and Canada. McDonald's has introduced touchscreen ordering kiosks to some of its stores (with plans to expand). Even Taco Bell has implemented touchscreen ordering systems into some of its stores, but the chain learned from the Taco-Matic's failure: The screen-based systems allow employees to spend more time crafting quality food and make sure orders are as precise as possible.
So employees shouldn't lose jobs because of automation. In fact, it should allow staff members to focus on the stuff that really matters. Brad Templeton, futurist and Networks & Computing chair at Silicon Valley's Singularity University, agrees.
"So far the news has not been bad," he said. "Some jobs will become obsolete with this new technology. But machines have been taking jobs from humans for hundreds of years. There are more bank tellers now -- after the advent of the ATM -- than there ever have been. I think about this a lot. When machines take our jobs, we always find other jobs to take their place. I believe that will be the case here."
If Taco Bell's misguided experiment in automation showed the fast-food world anything, it's that automation can't be used as a quick fix in every area of the industry. For robotics and next-gen tech to work in this context, it needs to work in conjunction with human employees, not in place of them.
"Look, automation is something that's coming to our industry and we're going to continue to explore that," Prince said. "But there's a time and place for it. It can't replace everything our employees do. It just can't work that way."
So they aren't going to dust off the Taco-Matic and give it another shot?
"No. I think we learned our lesson there," Prince said. "Also, I'm not sure if it even works anymore."
Alas, Automatic Taco Machine, this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.