Carl’s Jr CEO toys with idea of more automated restaurants

Looks like the little guy can teach a global fast food conglomerate a thing or two about running a restaurant

Eatsa, the mostly automated healthy, fast food bowl shop based in San Francisco, has inspired the CEO of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s to rethink the traditional workforce with the idea of adding more automation to its restaurants.

“I want to try it,” CEO Andy Puzder told Business Insider. “We could have a restaurant that’s focused on all-natural products and is much like an Eatsa, where you order on a kiosk, you pay with a credit or debit card, your order pops up, and you never see a person.”

While the CEO didn’t say he’d replace all workers with robots, an employee-free dining room and ordering system could help the fast food giant cope with rising minimum wages across the country.  Even at Eatsa, live workers are needed behind the scenes to assemble bowls. 

“With government driving up the cost of labor, it’s driving down the number of jobs,” he says, predicting the automation trend will likely extend beyond the restaurant industry.  “You’re going to see automation not just in airports and grocery stores, but in restaurants.”

The outspoken critic of raising the minimum wage has said it could lead to reduced employment opportunities across the board and stagnated growth for his industry.

If the minimum wage is raised, argues Puzder, more companies like CKE foods which owns Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr will look to automate faster– which could further decimate jobs.  

“If you’re making labor more expensive, and automation less expensive — this is not rocket science,” says Puzder.

The CEO acknowledges that it may be some time before Carl’s Jr’s dining room is people-free, and the chain would have to start small and test a more automated food system first before a larger roll-out. 

But Puzder says he sees automation fulfilling “rote tasks like grilling a burger or taking an order”–areas in which a robot would probably be more precise than a human.

And while older customers may take some time to adapt to interacting with a faceless platform, Puzder says the coveted millennial market actually prefers as little social interaction as possible when it comes to ordering food.

“Millennials like not seeing people,” said the CEO. “I’ve been inside restaurants where we’ve installed ordering kiosks … and I’ve actually seen young people waiting in line to use the kiosk where there’s a person standing behind the counter, waiting on nobody.”

http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2016/03/17/carls-jr-ceo-automation-workers-restaurants/

ISIS is manufacturing arms on industrial scale, report finds

The Islamic State terror group was manufacturing weapons in and around Mosul on an industrial scale with products largely bought in bulk from Turkey, according to a report published by an arms research group Wednesday.

The findings showed that ISIS maintained a “robust and reliable” supply chain between Turkey and Iraq that allowed the fighters to produce tens of thousands of weapons, the London-based Conflict Armament Research said. The group’s researchers studied ISIS weapons found at manufacturing facilities and on the battlefield during the Iraqi operation to retake Mosul that is underway.

As Iraqi forces advance, the extremists are losing the physical capacity to manufacture weapons on an industrial scale, but the research group’s executive director James Bevan warned that highly trained fighters will take their expertise with them as they retreat.

“Given that this group is so organized, they clearly see the writing on the wall in Mosul,” Bevan told The Associated Press, saying he believes ISIS has already moved its highest trained bomb-makers out of Mosul and into Syria and southern Turkey.

“They place a very high value on technical capacity and they will do everything they can to preserve it,” he said. Bevan added that ISIS fighters likely looked to Turkey to purchase weapons ingredients, knowing that their demand would outstrip what is available in Iraq.

Iraqi forces have been met with stiff resistance in Mosul, including waves of suicide car bombs, since launching an offensive to retake the city in October. They have retaken less than a quarter of the city since the operation began.

For many among Mosul’s Sunni Arabs, rule by the Sunni militants of ISIS initially seemed a respite from what they considered the heavy hand of Iraq’s Shiite-led central government in Baghdad. As Iraqi soldiers vanished in those first few weeks, people were simply happy to see hated security checkpoints pulled down and traffic moving smoothly along streets lined with low, pale buildings. Sunni insurgents have long been active in Mosul, and Baghdad’s clampdowns against them usually only fueled residents’ distrust.

But even as families strolled in the parks and shops stayed open, signs emerged that this group of fighters was unlike past insurgents who had worked strictly underground. They were staying put: Trucks began hauling office furniture to various government buildings, according to a blog called “Mosul Eye,” written by a resident who took on the role of city historian.

Several weeks later, the group declared its “caliphate” stretching across its territory in Syria and Iraq.

Within a month, the homes of Christians and other minorities were tagged with official stickers — for “statistical purposes,” ISIS officials said, according to Mosul Eye. Christians and Shiites soon fled, leaving their marked homes and belongings behind.

Kurds were soon targeted as well. “If you turned in a Kurdish family, they gave you a car,” said Hassan Ali Mustapha, a retired prison guard. He said he moved into a home deserted by a Kurdish family, after the family asked him through a mutual friend to do so to keep Islamic State from taking it over.

Mustapha walked with a heavy limp through the camp that is his family’s new home. They made their escape from Mosul first on foot and then by Iraqi government truck.

The group imposed the extreme, severe vision of Islamic law across its zone of control. Dress was strictly regulated, and clothes manufacturers were told to report to Islamic State offices to receive the acceptable measurements. Women were required to hide their faces and don black down to their fingertips. The fine for violations — even as small as the wrong kind of stocking — was 25,000 dinars, around 20 dollars. Repeat offenders got lashes.

There was another, widely feared punishment as well: The women’s brigade of religious enforcers used a metal-toothed device to deliver vicious, deep “bites” on women they deemed as dressing improperly, according to two women.

Punishments were often public, and in a central square the group printed broadsheets proclaiming how it would respond to disobedience. In one case, according to a witness, there was a gleeful description of “criminals” being shoved into a commercial oven to roast to death.

The militants took a cut of all business through fees, fines or taxes. Even roadside hawkers had to pay ISIS according to the size of the sheet on the ground where they displayed their wares — $12 per square meter. As they described indignities piling up, the camp residents dragged their feet in the dust to show just how small a space could be taxed.

Residents learned to keep a mental tally of all the different rules — and find ways to dissent.

The most symbolic was the widespread refusal to send children to the schools, which the extremists took over.

Mosul prides itself on an ancient history of knowledge. Near the center of the city are the ruins of the city of Nineveh where stone tablets more than 3,000 years old were discovered in a library, inscribed with the Mesopotamian epic of Gilgamesh, considered humanity’s oldest surviving work of literature.

But in the ISIS schools, lessons were about guns and warplanes. Mathematics courses couldn’t use a plus symbol because it resembled a Christian cross. Mosul’s biggest libraries were ransacked over a number of weeks, beginning in late 2014, and the extremists set up bonfires to torch books on science and culture, according to accounts at the time.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/12/14/report-says-isis-is-manufacturing-arms-on-industrial-scale.html

NASA’s Valkyrie robots set the table for human life on Mars

Four sister robots built by NASA could be pioneers in the colonization of Mars, part of an advance construction team that sets up a habitat for more fragile human explorers. But first they’re finding new homes on Earth and engineers to hone their skills.

The space agency has kept one Valkyrie robot at its birthplace, the Johnson Space Center in Houston. It has loaned three others to universities in Massachusetts and Scotland so professors and students can tinker with the 6-foot-tall, 300-pound humanoids and make them more autonomous.

One of the robots, nicknamed Val, still hasn’t quite harmonized its 28 torque-controlled joints and nearly 200 sensors after arriving at a robotics center at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell.

Engineering students let the electricity-powered robot down from a harness and tried to let it walk, only to watch as Val’s legs awkwardly lurched and locked into a ballet pose.

“That doesn’t look good,” said Taskin Padir, a professor at Northeastern University, noting Val’s $2 million price tag. Northeastern and UMass-Lowell are partnering on a two-year project to improve the robot’s software and test its ability to manipulate tools, climb a ladder and perform high-level tasks.

NASA originally designed Valkyrie several years ago to compete in the disaster-relief robotics contest hosted by the U.S. military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, but now it’s looking for outside expertise to craft her into a kind of space mechanic. NASA shipped two other Valkyries to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

This is not yet the stuff of “The Martian,” the Hollywood blockbuster about surviving on the Red Planet. For one thing, the tiny holes that prevent Val from overheating could get clogged up by spiraling Martian dust. But a sturdier exterior will come later.

There are still another two decades before NASA aims to land humans on Mars in the mid-2030s, said Johnson Space Center spokesman Jay Bolden. Now is the time, he said, to build the computer code that will make the robots useful in hostile environments. If not the Valkyries, it will be their descendants serving as the android vanguard that could make human life possible on Mars.

“It needs to be able to communicate back to Earth, very clearly and concisely, what’s going on,” said Holly Yanco, a computer science professor who directs UMass-Lowell’s robotics center and is an expert on human-robot interactions.

A time delay between communications from Earth to Mars means humans won’t be able to remotely control robots that will need to build structures and do emergency repair work.

There’s a huge step between NASA’s robotic rover Curiosity, which landed on Mars in 2012, and the capabilities of a robot such as Valkyrie, said Robert Platt, an assistant professor at Northeastern University who is part of the research team.

“The rovers get their instructions uploaded at the beginning of the day,” Platt said. “Those instructions amount to, ‘Go over there,’ or, ‘Check out that rock.’ It’s a completely different ballgame when the job for the day is to assemble a couple of habitats.”

A number of technological advancements, from faster computers to better machine-learning algorithms, will soon make it possible for a robot such as Valkyrie to perform such tasks, Platt said.

“Robotics has been making tremendous strides in the past five years. Drones, autonomous vehicles,” he said. “It’s one of those situations where you work on the same problem for decades and decades, and something finally starts to happen. Maybe this is that time.”

http://www.foxnews.com/science/2016/05/22/nasas-valkyrie-robots-set-table-for-human-life-on-mars.html

Automation Mechanism Temporarily Inoperative on Pence Plane

One automation mechanism on vice presidential candidate Mike Pence’s plane was inoperative when it overshot the runway at New York’s LaGuardia International Airport Thursday night, the National Transportation Safety Board said today.

The mechanism used to automatically deploy the ground spoiler, a component that reduces lift, was in need of maintenance and had been deactivated in accordance with FAA regulations a few days before the incident, the NTSB said. Instead, the pilot had to manually deploy the spoilers.

When they’re deployed automatically, spoilers activate about 1 second after touchdown. The flight data recorder indicates that Pence’s pilots deployed the spoilers about 4 seconds after touchdown, according to the NTSB.

NTSB Member Robert Sumwalt told reporters that the plane did not appear to be going “horribly” fast when it landed.

A team of NTSB investigators on the ground in Flushing continue to investigate the incident.

There were no injuries.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/automation-mechanism-temporarily-inoperative-pence-plane/story?id=43145075

How the Dow Jones Industrial Average Finished Tuesday

Major U.S. stock indexes set records again Tuesday as energy companies continued to climb following international deals that will cut oil production. Big-name technology companies like Apple and IBM also traded higher as the Dow Jones industrial average closed above 19,900 for the first time.

On Tuesday:

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 114.78 points, or 0.6 percent, to 19,911.21.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 14.76 points, or 0.7 percent, to 2,271.72.

The Nasdaq composite rose 51.29 points, or 0.9 percent, to 5,463.83.

For the week:

The Dow is up 154.36 points, or 0.8 percent.

The S&P 500 is up 12.19 points, or 0.5 percent.

The Nasdaq is up 19.33 points, or 0.4 percent.

For the year:

The Dow is up 2,486.18 points, or 14.3 percent.

The S&P 500 is up 227.78 points, or 11.1 percent.

The Nasdaq is up 456.42 points, or 9.1 percent.

http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/dow-jones-industrial-average-finished-tuesday-44174284

Pearl Announces RearVision: World’s Most Advanced Automotive Backup Camera

SCOTTS VALLEY, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Pearl Automation Inc. (Pearl), founded on the belief that all drivers

should have access to the latest car features, today announces

RearVision, the advanced backup camera and alert system that installs in

minutes. RearVision enables a super-wide view of the area behind your

vehicle in both day and night — with high-definition video streamed

wirelessly to your phone — and is the first to provide feature

enhancements through automatic updates. RearVision is available for

preorder today at pearlauto.com.

“You shouldn’t have to buy a new car to get new car features, especially

as cars are expected to last up to 20 years,” said Bryson Gardner,

co-founder and CEO of Pearl. “Rather than wait for the promise of the

autonomous vehicle, we are further developing many of those underlying

technologies to help the human driver today. And these features learn

and improve over time through automatic updates, just as you’ve come to

expect with the experience on your phone.”

Typically, automotive technology can take 40 or more years to reach wide

scale adoption (source: HLDI, 2012). The first backup camera appeared in

a production car 25 years ago, yet fewer than one in four vehicles in

the US have them today (source: CEA, 2015). Backup cameras are widely

recognized as one of the most important safety and convenience features,

and the National

Highway Traffic Safety Administration has mandated that backup

cameras become standard starting with all model-year 2019 cars.

Product Features

o Installs in Minutes — The solar-charged Camera Frame installs

wirelessly around your license plate. Plug the Car Adapter into the

on-board diagnostic (OBD) port, pair the Pearl App and the product is

ready for use.

o Dual HD Cameras – Tuned for stereovision, two cameras stream

super-wide video through the Pearl iOS or Android App in both portrait

and landscape, even at night. Tap-to-pan offers easy control to see

what’s behind your car.

o Intelligent Alerts – Through advanced image processing, the

RearVision Car Adapter analyzes the video streams to detect obstacles in

your path, providing audible alerts and sending visual alerts to your

phone.

o Automatic Updates — Pearl RearVision includes ongoing software

updates that deliver performance improvements and new feature

enhancements.

o Phone as the Display – No need to install another screen — use

the screen that you already bring into your car every day.

o Hands-Free – A thoughtfully-designed Phone Mount is included

for an optimal hands-free experience.

Preorder today and receive free shipping at pearlauto.com.

Pearl RearVision retails for $499.99.

About Pearl

Pearl was founded on the belief that all drivers should have access to

the latest car features. The company is advancing the underlying

technologies in the autonomous vehicle to improve the experience for

every driver on the road today. Its first product, RearVision, is the

backup camera redefined — it installs in minutes, provides obstacle

alerts and updates automatically to deliver ongoing feature

enhancements. Created by former leaders in Apple’s iPod and iPhone teams

and inspired by the world-changing products they helped produce, Pearl

is dedicated to improving the more than 1.2 billion cars on the road

today. Pearl is privately funded by Accel, Shasta Ventures, Venrock and

Wellcome Trust. For more information, visit www.pearlauto.com.

Pearl and the Pearl logo are trademarks of Pearl Automation Inc. ©

2016 Pearl Automation Inc. All rights reserved. All other

trademarks mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160621005591/en/Pearl-Announces-RearVision-Worlds-Advanced-Automotive-Backup

Is Enough Done To Stop Explosive Dust?

You might not think of sugar, corn, or metal as materials that can cause a catastrophic explosion in a factory, but when they’re ground into dust-and suspended in the air-all it takes is a small spark to set off a major disaster. As correspondent Scott Pelley reports, devastating dust explosions at American factories are more common now than ever.

Since 1980, there have been at least 350 such explosions in the U.S., killing 133 people and injuring hundreds more. There are at least 30,000 factories in the nation vulnerable to dust explosions, and yet, some top federal safety officials tell 60 Minutes the government agency whose job it is to protect workers is ignoring a tried-and-true way to prevent those explosions.

On the night of Oct, 29, 2003, the Hayes Lemmerz factory in Huntington, Ind., exploded in a ball of fire. The plant made wheels for cars, and federal investigators said aluminum dust had piled up and detonated.

Thirty-three-year-old Shawn Boone was a mechanic at the plant. His sister, Tammy Miser, got a call with word that her brother was seriously injured. “Shawn and a couple of his co-workers were in the furnace room. And there was an explosion. And then there was a second more intense blast,” she remembers.

Asked what happened to him, Tammy tells Pelley, “He laid on the building floor. And the aluminum dust actually continued to burn through his flesh.”

Tammy says her brother had third and fourth-degree burns on 92 to 100 percent of his body. She says the doctors said there wasn’t any hope. “That his internal organs were burned beyond repair. They wouldn’t even bandage him. They said that the only solution we had was to take him off of life support.”

Shawn Boone was one of 15 people killed in dust explosions that year. It was a turning point for Carolyn Merritt, who was then the head of the Chemical Safety Board, the federal government’s own experts who find the cause of the nation’s worst industrial disasters.

Merritt ordered the most comprehensive investigation ever done on dust explosions. Her conclusion: hundreds of industries create huge amounts of lethal dust and aren’t even aware of the risk. “If this material were gasoline, there would be no doubt in any owner’s or operator’s mind what needed to be done,” Merritt tells Pelley.

Asked if that would be an emergency, Merritt says, “Absolutely.”

“Is dust, functionally, the same thing?” Pelley asks.

“It has the same power if a dust explosion occurs,” Merritt explains.

“Can you just explain to me how it is that the dust is explosive, I mean, what’s going on here?” Pelley asks,

“Okay, if you take an ear of corn, you’re not gonna be able to light it with a match. But if you grind that into a powder, the smaller the particle size, the more explosive it is. Metal dust. People don’t think metal can burn. But you turn it into a fine powder, and you have a very explosive and flammable material,” she explains.

Even a thin layer of dust, once airborne, can be ignited by the smallest spark-a machine being plugged in or a forklift scraping the ground.

One explosion, also in 2003, at West Pharmaceutical Industries in Kinston, N.C., showed just how insidious the problem can be. Because it was a drug company, the factory floor was immaculate. But plastic dust was hidden above the workers’ heads.

“We know that as much as two inches of dust had accumulated in the ceiling, probably about a ton of material. That makes for a powerful explosion,” Merritt says.

Hours after the blast employees were still trapped inside; seven died and scores were injured. Merritt’s investigation concluded that OSHA-the government agency created to safeguard workplaces-had no effective regulation on its books to deal with explosive dust. And she found that OSHA inspectors routinely overlooked the hazard.

Merritt tells Pelley OSHA had been at that worksite before the explosion and that they didn’t find any dust issues.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/is-enough-done-to-stop-explosive-dust/

Industrials Sector | Reuters.com

LIMA, Dec 15 Peru’s central bank held the

benchmark interest rate steady at 4.25 percent for the tenth

month in a row as expected on Thursday, but warned that a

drought was fanning inflation and noted a lack of investment in

construction and manufacturing.

6:34pm EST

* Start-ups on track to raise record funds this year – think

tank

TRIPOLI, Dec 15 A group of oil guards in Libya

said on Thursday they had reopened a long blockaded pipeline

leading from the major oil fields of Sharara and El Feel, but an

oil worker said a separate group had prevented a production

restart at El Feel.

Dec 15 A U.S. government investigation found no

wrongdoing by five U.S. airlines and ended a probe into whether

they unfairly manipulated fares after a deadly train crash in

May 2015 snarled transportation between New York and Washington.

http://www.reuters.com/sectors/industrials

Carl’s Jr CEO toys with idea of more automated restaurants

Looks like the little guy can teach a global fast food conglomerate a thing or two about running a restaurant

Eatsa, the mostly automated healthy, fast food bowl shop based in San Francisco, has inspired the CEO of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s to rethink the traditional workforce with the idea of adding more automation to its restaurants.

“I want to try it,” CEO Andy Puzder told Business Insider. “We could have a restaurant that’s focused on all-natural products and is much like an Eatsa, where you order on a kiosk, you pay with a credit or debit card, your order pops up, and you never see a person.”

While the CEO didn’t say he’d replace all workers with robots, an employee-free dining room and ordering system could help the fast food giant cope with rising minimum wages across the country.  Even at Eatsa, live workers are needed behind the scenes to assemble bowls. 

“With government driving up the cost of labor, it’s driving down the number of jobs,” he says, predicting the automation trend will likely extend beyond the restaurant industry.  “You’re going to see automation not just in airports and grocery stores, but in restaurants.”

The outspoken critic of raising the minimum wage has said it could lead to reduced employment opportunities across the board and stagnated growth for his industry.

If the minimum wage is raised, argues Puzder, more companies like CKE foods which owns Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr will look to automate faster– which could further decimate jobs.  

“If you’re making labor more expensive, and automation less expensive — this is not rocket science,” says Puzder.

The CEO acknowledges that it may be some time before Carl’s Jr’s dining room is people-free, and the chain would have to start small and test a more automated food system first before a larger roll-out. 

But Puzder says he sees automation fulfilling “rote tasks like grilling a burger or taking an order”–areas in which a robot would probably be more precise than a human.

And while older customers may take some time to adapt to interacting with a faceless platform, Puzder says the coveted millennial market actually prefers as little social interaction as possible when it comes to ordering food.

“Millennials like not seeing people,” said the CEO. “I’ve been inside restaurants where we’ve installed ordering kiosks … and I’ve actually seen young people waiting in line to use the kiosk where there’s a person standing behind the counter, waiting on nobody.”

http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2016/03/17/carls-jr-ceo-automation-workers-restaurants/

Robots will replace fast-food workers

Restaurant industry backers warn that a sharp rise in wages would be counterproductive, increasing the appeal of automation and putting more workers at risk of job loss.

“Faced with a $15 wage mandate, restaurants have to reduce the cost of service,” blared an ad in The Wall Street Journal last year from the Employment Policies Institute, which supports corporate interests. “That means fewer entry-level jobs and more automated alternatives — even in the kitchen.”

Other industry observers aren’t so definitive, noting that it takes time to introduce new technology and that human interaction has always been a major component of the hospitality business. What’s clear at least is that software and machines will play an increased role in our dining experiences going forward.

Panera Bread (PNRA) is the latest chain to introduce automated service, announcing in April that it plans to bring self-service ordering kiosks as well as a mobile ordering option to all its locations within the next three years. The news follows moves from Chili’s and Applebee’s to place tablets on their tables, allowing diners to order and pay without interacting with human wait staff at all.

Panera, which spent $42 million developing its new system, claims it isn’t planning any job cuts as a result of the technology, but some analysts see this kind of shift as unavoidable for the industry.

Related: 110 arrested outside McDonald’s headquarters

In a widely cited paper released last year, University of Oxford researchers estimated that there is a 92% chance that fast-food preparation and serving will be automated in the coming decades.

With artificial-intelligence technology like IBM’s (IBM) Watson platform making strides in advanced reasoning and language understanding, it’s not hard to see how robots could be designed to provide more sophisticated interactions with restaurant customers than kiosks can manage.

Delivery drivers could be replaced en masse by self-driving cars, which are likely to hit the market within a decade or two, or even drones. In food preparation, there are start-ups offering robots for bartending and gourmet hamburger preparation. A food processing company in Spain now uses robots to inspect heads of lettuce on a conveyor belt, throwing out those that don’t meet company standards, the Oxford researchers report.

Darren Tristano, a food industry expert with the research firm Technomic, said digital technology will “slowly, over time, create efficiency and labor savings” for restaurants. He guessed that work forces would only drop as a result by 5% or 10% at a maximum in the decades to come, however, given the expectations that customers have for the dining experience.

“If you look at the thousands of years that consumers have been served alcohol and food by people, it’s hard to imagine that things will change that quickly,” he said.

CNNMoney (New York) First published May 22, 2014: 10:59 AM ET

http://money.cnn.com/2014/05/22/technology/innovation/fast-food-robot/index.html