A former McDonald’s CEO warned this week that companies will replace human workers with robots if the minimum wage is raised above $15.
But that possibility has already become a reality for Pizza Hut waiters.
Pizza Hut has partnered with MasterCard to deploy robotic waiters to its restaurants in Asia.
The robots, named Pepper, can greet and interact with customers, as well as take food orders.
A digital tablet displayed on the robots’ chests show menu options.
In order to interact with Pepper, customers must have a MasterPass account on their phones.
Here’s how it works: Customers will greet the robot, then pair their MasterPass account by eithertapping the Pepper icon on their phones or by scanning a QR code on robot’s tablet.
Then the robot will be able to help customers order and pay for their food.
Pizza Hut executives said Pepper will make it easier for people to customize their orders and it will speed up customer service.
“We are excited to welcome Pepper to the Pizza Hut family,” said Vipul Chawla, managing director of Pizza Hut Restaurants Asia. “Core to our digital transformation journey is the ability to make it easier for customers to engage, connect and transact with Pizza Hut. With an order-and-payment-enabled Pepper, customers can now come to expect personalized ordering at our stores, reduce wait time for carryout, and have a fun, frictionless user experience.”
The addition of Pepper to Pizza Hut represents a new threat to fast-food workers.
Wendy’s, McDonald’s, and Panera have all started rolling out digital ordering kiosks to restaurants across the US to speed up customer service and reduce labor costs.
Robots haven’t been piloted in US restaurants yet, but it might not be long before they become mainstream, at least according to former McDonald’s USA CEO Ed Rensi.
Rensi warned on Tuesday: “It’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who’s inefficient making $15 an hour bagging french fries,” Rensi warned in a Fox Business interview on Tuesday. “It’s nonsense and it’s very destructive and it’s inflationary and it’s going to cause a job loss across this country like you’re not going to believe.”