Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Pasadena, CA, United States (4E) – “Flippy,” the world’s first autonomous robotic kitchen assistant, took a leave of absence after its first day on the job because its human partners couldn’t keep up with its speed.
This burger-flipping robot is actually a robotic arm encased in a food safe covering. It has 3D and thermal cameras for eyes and an artificial intelligence (AI) brain linked to the cloud. It “works” exclusively at the CaliBurger restaurant branch in Pasadena, California. CaliBurger and Miso Robotics partnered to develop Flippy.
Flippy’s only job is to flip burger patties until they’re cooked. It’s designed to cook 200 burgers per hour.
The company said Flippy will “assist our world-class CaliBurger kitchen chefs in preparing our signature always fresh, never frozen, mouth-watering Cali-style burgers.” CaliBurger eventually intends to deploy Flippys at most if its branches where it will replace human fry cooks.
Flippy, however, can only flip burgers. Placing the raw burger patties on the grill and loading the buns with veggies and sauces are done by humans. More importantly, humans have to place patties with enough distance between them so Flippy doesn’t get confused.
Cali Group, parent company of CaliBurger, said that while Flippy can cook 200 burgers per hour, the humans putting the raw patties on the grill and getting the buns and accoutrements ready aren’t up to the task.
CaliBurger said it will spend more time training its employees to work with Flippy, but while this training goes on, Flippy has gone on vacation leave. It did admit it’s having a hard time retaining employees in the burger-flipping position.
“We train them. They work on the grill. They realize it’s not fun … and so they leave and drive Ubers,” said Cali Group CEO John Miller.
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