The next time you place an order at a fast food joint, you could see a robot behind the counter. Flippy is an AI-driven kitchen assistant that can flip burgers and place them on buns, and it debuted today at a CaliBurger restaurant in Pasadena, California.
Flippy was developed by Miso Robotics and CaliBurger's owner, Cali Group. It uses cameras, sensors and deep learning software to locate ingredients in a kitchen without needing to reconfigure existing equipment. Not only does it position and flip the patties, it tracks their temperature and cooking time too. When the burgers are done, it alerts a human cook, who applies the cheese and other toppings.
"Much like self-driving vehicles, our system continuously learns from its experiences to improve over time," said David Zito, CEO of Miso Robotics, in a statement. Eventually, Zito said Flippy can be trained to help with other kitchen tasks, like frying chicken, cutting vegetables or plating.
Self-ordering kiosks are already replacing workers at fast food chains like McDonald's and Wendys. But, Miso Robotics said Flippy is designed to work alongside human staff. Once its "probation" ends in Pasadena, it will roll out to more than 50 CaliBurger locations over the next two years. When that happens, some people could be reassigned to the dining room to engage more with customers, while others will be trained to operate their new assistant.
"Tasting food and creating recipes will always be the purview of a chef," Zito recently told TechCrunch. "And restaurants are gathering places where we go to interact with each other. Humans will always play a very critical role in the hospitality side of the business given the social aspects of food. We just don't know what the new roles will be yet in the industry."