A fast-food joint in California welcomes its first robot employee. Flippy is an autonomous kitchen assistant that can flip burgers without taking a break.
Caliburger becomes the pioneer restaurant to employ an industrial-grade robotic arm to prepare its menu. It is currently available in the Pasadena branch, with the company planning to order more for the remaining locations in the United States before the year ends.
The restaurant owners assure the public that it does intend to replace its human workers. The new technology is presumably meant to help its staff.
Building A Grill Chef
At first glance, the employed technology appears to be similar to the robots seen at factory assembly lines. The hardware itself is built by a company called Fanuc, which provides several industrial and manufacturing solutions.
Meanwhile, the Miso Robotics handles the programming via its artificial intelligence programs with cloud-connectivity.
"Over time, we can train Flippy to have the mind of a grill chef," explained David Zito, CEO, and co-founder of the Miso Robotics, which is also based in Pasadena, California.
Consistent Quality A Must
Zito pointed out that John Miller, CEO of the restaurant chain, often finds it difficult to look for someone to man the grill. It is supposedly an important role in the preparation of their signature burgers.
It is the main reason why the company opts to automate its kitchen to produce the quality required by the business.
"The key to success in the restaurant business is consistency. So anytime you go to Caliburger anywhere you know the patty will be cooked exactly the same," said Miller.
Working The Grill Like A Pro
According to Miso Robotics, Flippy relies on a combination of sensors that uses computer vision with 3D and thermal cameras to monitor temperature.
The algorithm used by the system uses all of the gathered information to consistently produce the required quality for the burgers.
Demonstration And Safety Concerns
Based on reports, Caliburger held a demonstration to showcase what Flippy can do. Journalists who attended the event noted that the process was precise and very quick, which is expected of industrial robotic arms.
With an understanding that industrial-grade technology can be dangerous, Miso Robotics is confident that the automated grill chef has safety parameters in place.
"We use OSHA-compliant laser fences to detect when a worker is near the robot," said Zito. "Food safety and worker safety are our No. 1 priority."