Fourth of July barbecues are an American tradition that kick off the summer grilling season. Few things are sweeter than relaxing in the sunshine with a cold beer, surrounded by family, friends, and the aroma of roasting meat. But balancing the demands of cooking meat over flame with the desire to relax with loved ones can wear some down.

Fortunately in this day and age, technology can solve these problems. Robots, drones, and mobile machines are here to put your mind and body at easy this Fourth of July. God Bless America. And robots.

The Hamburglar 

hamburger machineThe perfect hamburger requires careful execution of many of components. There is the composition of the ground meat to consider, and then pressure to achieve the right char-to-juice ratio, not to mention the laborious process of slicing up tomatoes and other toppings.

Momentum Machines has created a hamburger-making robot that automates the entire process of cooking a hamburger. It can produce around 360 hamburgers an hour, complete with tomatoes, pickles, condiments, or whatever your stomach desires.

The machine is intended to replace the line cooks at hamburger restaurants, providing a more efficient, sanitary, and cost-effective alternative. However, I don’t see any reason why a burger enthusiast with a wide-and-hungry social circle couldn’t benefit from the product as well. Between Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, and global warming, there are plenty of sunny, barbecue-friendly days ahead.

Hot doggin’

Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 1.23.53 PMIf you are more of a hot dog person, don’t despair. Students across North America are building automatic hot dog machines. I found two examples — one from the Rochester Institute of Technology and the other from Humber College in Toronto — of machines that assemble hot dogs for you.

These machines cook the sausages and deliver them gracefully into the soft embrace of the hot dog buns. Once safely ensconced between the fluffy white bread, it guides the hot dogs down the line to the ketchup and mustard station, where they receives a delicate coating of condiments before exiting the machine into your waiting hands.

No more rotating the links on the grill, no more setting up an assembling of sandwiches, no more ketchup and mustard stains on your clothing (unless you are a messy eater). Watch the video here

Beer robots

beer robotWouldn’t it be great if beer cans just dropped out of the sky when you wanted them? Now they can. A South African team has developed a SteadiDrone octocopter specifically modified to deliver beers. You “order” using the iPhone app, and the copter drops a parachuted beer to your location.

Alas, this feat of brilliance, innovation, and engineering is currently only available at the Oppikoppi music festival in South Africa  (last year, the delivery drone dropped burritos). However, it is a standard unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) equipped with a release mechanism, and surely someone on this side of the Atlantic could hack something together in honor of the Fourth. Then you can just sit back, relax, and have a beer literally dropped into your lap. There is no reason to get up at all.

If your main concern is achieving the perfect pour, the Japanese have designed a robot that takes care of this element of beer-consumption. Robocco is a beer robot that stores and refrigerates six cans, and opens and pours them for you. It has a programmable voice feature, cleaning mode, and a child lock, and resembles R2-D2. 

When their powers combine, your only job is to enjoy your brewski.

CyberQ: ‘Only for serious BBQers’

Barbecue aficionados may be hesitant to relinquish the cooking portion of Fourth of July festivities to robots. If this is the case, there are still gadgets out there that cut down on time and labor so you can focus on fun.

cyberq wifiAs someone dating a Texan, I have been well-schooled in the diversity of the barbecue cuisine and the importance in getting the temperature and cook-time just right. Brisket is king, but ribs and chicken also play an important role at any barbecue worth its salt in … meat.

With the CyberQ Wi-Fi, you can monitor the temperature of items cooking on charcoal grills or in a smoker and control it from any Wi-Fi-enabled device. You put a food probe into the food and plug it into the CyberQ unit. The device will display cooking temperatures for up to three different foods, and you can browse the readings for temperatures, times, and status from your smartphone. It even detects when the pit’s lid is open to “minimize the temperature disturbance and recover quickly to the set point” so the pit master can go off and chat with people and not worry that someone will tamper with the grill.

Good barbecue takes patience and vigilance, and the CyberQ enables you to adopt the best barbecue practices without sacrificing social time.

Clean up

Clean up is clearly the worst part of a Fourth of July barbecue fest. The day is over, you probably have a bit if a headache coming on, and yet the grill needs clearing. If you don’t have minions to do this for you, a motorized grill brush with steam-cleaning power makes this unpleasant process less unpleasant. The motor powers away grease and grime without scrubbing or chemicals.

You can save your elbow grease for drinking water, which always seems to fall by the wayside at these affairs.

Photos and videos courtesy of : Shutterstock, Oster360/YouTube,,,