The Flippy kitchen assistant robot made its public debut today at a branch of the CaliBurger restaurant chain. Its main role is flipping burgers and taking them off the grill once they have been cooked to order.
Flippy is the result of a two-year development project between CaliBurger and Miso Robotics, and it will now work full time at the franchise’s Pasadena restaurant.
The project began in 2016 with the aim of developing a cost-effective and efficient ‘cobot’ that could work regularly alongside kitchen staff.
Flippy the AI platform
Flippy isn’t a simple machine carrying out production-line tasks.
Miso Robotics has developed Miso AI, a learning platform that powers Flippy’s robotic arms. The system combines 3D, thermal and regular vision to detect when raw patties are placed on the grill. It monitors each of them during cooking to maintain consistency and avoid under- or overcooking.
As well as ensuring Flippy cooks a perfect patty, Miso AI displays the remaining cooking time and informs kitchen staff when to place cheese on top and when to start dressing each burger.
Hygiene is a major consideration. Flippy uses Miso AI to switch to a different spatula depending on whether it’s handling raw or cooked meat. It can also clean the spatulas while cooking and wipe the surface of the grill with a scraper.
John Miller, chairman of Cali Group, said that the program’s success to date will lead to more of the robot kitchen assistants being deployed across the US. “The deployment of Flippy in CaliBurger restaurants represents a major milestone in helping our staff produce mouthwatering burgers more consistently and in a timely manner,” he said.
“The ease of integration into our existing kitchen lines will also allow us to quickly install Flippy in more locations nationwide.”
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“I can’t think of anything more rewarding than working on something so challenging that also has the potential to be impactful,” said Dr. Ryan Sinnet, co-founder and chief technology officer of Miso Robotics.
“Our team poured their hearts into getting Flippy ready to cook for people and I’m so proud of the grit we displayed to accomplish this in record time.”
Internet of Business says
The recent direction of robotics has been away from dumb, single-use machines and towards developing smart, customisable platforms and ‘cobots’ to work alongside human staff. Flippy is just such an example of a small, industry-specific solution that can be seamlessly integrated with human teams.
The aim is to ensure that product quality is consistent from branch to branch. However, it would be interesting to see the chain’s performance data over the next year to see what effect the robot is having on waste on the one hand and on labour costs on the other. Is the robot having a demonstrable impact on the bottom line, or does CaliBurger see it as a brand-building exercise, similar to Honda’s ASIMO robot?