Miso Robotics' Burger-Flipping Robot Has Caught Walmart's Attention
Robots are making our lives easier in so many ways. For years, they've been helping to build our cars and many of the other products we use every day.
As the technology underpinning these wonderful machines has become ever more sophisticated, they have become capable of performing increasingly skillful tasks. In fact, it's not unusual to now find robots with such dexterity that they can perform roles which until recently would have required a human hand. Many robots can also now work directly alongside human workers, without the need for them to be housed in large safety cages.
Into this space steps Miso Robotics and its exciting cybernetic invention - a robot capable of lending a helping hand to busy fast food workers.
A tech startup operating out of Pasadena, California, Miso Robotics has only been in business since 2016. However, in that short time, the company has been making serious waves in the restaurant business. Now that its initial offering is ready to leave the lab and get to work, the excitement is building even more.
The product is a robotic arm named Flippy. Flippy is designed to operate in busy fast food kitchens, and, as the name suggests, can man a grill station and flip burgers automatically. Consisting of a single arm with an attached spatula, Flippy is also equipped with 3D and thermal scanners for "eyes", and Miso Robotics' proprietary cloud-connected Miso AI for a "brain". Using this technology, Flippy can judge when a burger has reached the correct temperature on the grill. The bot will then flip the patty to cook the other side, and, when ready, take it off the grill altogether.
"We started Miso Robotics with the idea of giving eyes and a brain to a robotic arm so it could work in commercial kitchens with real-time situational awareness and real-time robotic controls," said Miso Robotics Cofounder and CEO, Dave Zito. "We designed and started building the system from day one as a software platform that could automate the cooking of all manner of foods and recipes, with all equipment and restaurant brands, and all kitchen formats. Our kitchen assistants are focused on helping with the most repetitive, dangerous, and least desirable tasks in the kitchen. Grilling burgers was our proof of concept."
And that proof of concept was successfully achieved. After signing a contract with restaurant operator Cali Group to install its robotic burger-flipping arm in 50 of the restaurateur's CaliBurger locations, Miso Robotics has achieved its initial undertaking and has now expanded the operating capabilities of Flippy.
With the simple addition of other peripherals, Flippy can operate fryer baskets with the same ease as it flips burgers. As part of a new contract with Dodger Stadium vending operator Levy Restaurants Inc., Flippy was able to cook an average of more than 218 baskets of chicken per hour at Dodger Stadium during the latter half of the 2018 season and into the World Series.
While its ability to cook burgers and operate a fryer station with safety and efficiency is indeed impressive, Miso Robotics has an even bigger vision for Flippy in the future.
"Flippy can now fry many different kinds of foods as well," continued Zito. "These tasks can be improved and optimized for consistency, ensuring each meal is cooked to the perfect temperature with minimal food waste. Beyond frying, grilling, and other cooking, expect them over time to help with tasks like chopping onions, cutting other vegetables, and even cleaning. "
Starting with flipping burgers, we could soon see Flippy robots performing almost every role in the kitchen. With wheels on its base, Flippy can move around own its own, and could, therefore, operate in a versatile manner and switch between tasks according to need.
Miso Robotics has big plans for Flippy, and thanks to its versatility and powerful AI and machine learning capabilities, the robot is more than capable of meeting the challenge. We have a feeling Miso Robotics is going to be a startup to watch in the future, and we're excited about what their creative and skilled minds can conjure up next.
"Expect improvements across several aspects of business - better food, better customer service, better inventory and cost management," concludes Zito. "While a signature recipe for a restaurant can make it a success, it can be hard to reliably reproduce at scale to every customer, but robots like Flippy can deliver consistency in flavor to help keep customers loyal. Furthermore, the value proposition of implementing robotics in the kitchen spans productivity and cost savings to one of the most pressing issues in our world today - sustainability."
Robotics technology is set to be a hot topic at Future Restaurants 2019, taking place this September in Austin, TX.
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