Meet Flippy, he’s just a robot arm, but this bit of machine represents big change. This creation of Miso Robotics is more than just a novelty made for display. Flippy here has real world skills – and this burger cooking robot is pretty good in a restaurant environment. Miso Robotics describes Flippy as “The world’s first autonomous robotic kitchen assistant”, and the bot seems up for the job.
Flippy The Burger Cooking Robot
This brand new fast food worker can learn new skills over time, and perhaps find its own ways to better burgers. It is easy to clean, and uses several sensors to stay aware of its environment. It is set to work in collaboration with other kitchen staff, and actively tries to stay out of their way. Flippy can cook anywhere between 150 to 300 burgers per hour, and Miso claims it can stay active continuously for 100,000 hours.
To prove it’s skill, the robot took a job at a Cali Burger in Pasadena, where it proved its worth by manning the grill. Flippy uses 3D vision, both regular and thermal to detect placement of patties on the grill. Once its thermal sensors determine the patty is done, the bot moves it off the grill. Of course, this also means that Flippy can’t function without human assistance. While it can man the grill, it needs a human to place patties/burgers on the grill.
The Road Ahead for this Kitchen Robot
Flippy is off-service from Cali Burger after two days. The restaurant says it could not handle the spike in business that came with having the bot on the staff. Patrons flocked to the business as media reports circulated. Miso claims Flippy can cook up to 2000 patties a day, and it appears the restaurant didn’t have enough staff to handle the off-grill aspect of things.
Having a robot man the grill has also brought about another question, and enlivened the debate around automation. What happens to the large number of fast food workers once robot kitchen assistants are widely adopted? Businesses of course will see the benefit of having an “employee” that does not need wages, can be worked constantly, and is OSHA compliant.
There is still some way to go before the robot can completely replace the human element. Certainly, it is too early to dismiss the direction automation will take. As we have already seen with the impressive growth of SpotMini, the robots are tenacious learners. Flippy can’t plan ahead or communicate with fellow workers. Yet, this burger cooking robot can use its ever-growing skill-set to find a solution. Miso says they are working on more kitchen assistant robots – it is likely we will soon see more siblings of Flippy.