Robots will likely be serving up fast food orders within a decade.
That's according to Yum Brands CEO Greg Creed, whose company owns major brands like Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut. Speaking to CNBC Tuesday, the executive said that automation and artificial intelligence could largely take the place of humans in the food services industry “by the mid (2020s).”
"I think it's gonna happen. We'll see a dramatic change in how machines run things," said Creed, who has been at the head of Yum Brands since 2015.
The move toward robotic staffing is already occurring worldwide and Creed noted that automatic kiosks are currently in use in Shanghai, China. Pizza Hut has previously employed robots as greeters, too. And while Creed said robots aren’t currently threatening people's work (“I don’t see it changing people’s jobs in the short term”), he does believe technology will inevitably lead to less work overall for human beings.
Creed's comments echo those of former CKE CEO and failed labor secretary nominee Andy Puzder. As the CEO of the company behind Carl’s Jr. and Hardees, Puzder has said that the trend toward automation in the food service industry could reduce costs.
"With government driving up the cost of labor, it's driving down the number of jobs," he said last March. "You're going to see automation not just in airports and grocery stores, but in restaurants."
"If you're making labor more expensive, and automation less expensive — this is not rocket science," Puzder told Business Insider at the time.
And restaurants like Eatsa, which allow customers to place orders via in store tablet kiosks or a smartphone app, and pay using self-service credit card scanners, are already removing the human factor from many parts of dining process.
Still, according to Creed, the demand for human labor will not completely disappear. “We don't make a lot of things until customers order," he said. "I'm not sure we're going to have robots replace people.”