This is Flippy. Flippy is a burger flipping robot which cooks a perfect patty every time. After a successful trial the robot will now be set to work in 50 CaliBurger fast food restaurants in 2018.
Flippy’s official title is ‘robotic kitchen assistant’.
Inventors, Miso Robotics, are keen to point out Flippy works alongside humans. It doesn’t replace human chefs. At least not all of them.
It does the repetitive, mundane, and sometimes dangerous jobs. Which still means a human assistant chef is out of a job.
But the theory is displaced employees will be relocated to other roles. The front of house for example. Sounds fine. In theory.
What does Flippy actually do?
He flips burgers.
That’s flippant of me. This is an incredibly sophisticated piece of kit.
Once the burgers are unwrapped, Flippy has a claw not fingers, the robot places them on the grill.
It then cooks the perfect burger. Simples.
How does it work?
A small wheeled cart makes it easy to position the robot in a kitchen.
Fitted with cameras and sensors it can see and interact with its environment. A six axis robotic arm enables Flippy to get to work.
The robot’s arm is equipped with a claw. With the claw the robot is able to grab a burger from the grill and flip it.
Flippy’s built in AI software can distinguish between different meats. Its thermal sensors can also tell when the burger is cooked. The inventors claim this results in a perfectly cooked burger every time.
Once cooked the robot will place the burgers on a bun.
If cheese or other toppings need to be added Flippy will ‘tell’ a human worker.
Ramping up the AI
As well as the claw the robot has other tools. These include grippers, scrappers, and tongs. These tools enable Flippy to cook and maintain a grill.
They will also allow Flippy to cook other foods and perform other tasks as its AI develops.
David Zito, CEO of Miso Robotics, explains: “Much like self-driving vehicles, our system continuously learns from its experiences to improve over time.
“Though we are starting with the relatively ‘simple’ task of cooking burgers, our proprietary AI software allows our kitchen assistants to be adaptable.
“(They) can be trained to help with almost any dull, dirty or dangerous task in a commercial kitchen — whether it’s frying chicken, cutting vegetables or final plating.”
I want a Flippy flipped burger
You’ll have to travel to California. Or possibly Majorca.
The robot will be working in CaliBurger restaurants. Though they operate in 14 countries the UK isn’t one of them.
CaliBurger invested in Miso Robotics as the company developed Flippy. They see a big future for robots in the kitchen.
Chairman of Cali Group, John Miller, said: “The application of artificial intelligence to robotic systems that work next to our employees in CaliBurger restaurants will allow us to make food faster, safer and with fewer errors.”
“Our investment in Miso Robotics is part of our broader vision for creating a unified operating system that will control all aspects of a restaurant.”
Miller went on to explain what a unified operating system would include. He said: “From in-store interactive gaming entertainment to automated ordering and cooking processes, ‘intelligent’ food delivery and real-time detection of operating errors and pathogens.”
Flippy isn’t the only robotic kitchen assistant. But he seems to be the most sophisticated. And is surely a sign of how restaurants will develop.
The fast food variety at least.
No one is suggesting Flippy will win MasterChef any time soon. But a fully automated kitchen in a fast food joint isn’t hard to envisage.
So where will all this leave fast food employees?
Flippy inventor David Zito told dailymail.co.uk: “Humans will always play a role in the restaurant of the future, even if we don’t know exactly what the role will be.”
No need to worry then.