It’s never been a particularly sought-after job, but now it appears that flipping burgers may not be a task for humans at all. Meet Flippy, a new “robotic kitchen assistant” from Miso Robotics that, as its name suggests, will automate the process of cooking those juicy patties. And Flippy is apparently quite sought after itself — Miso Robotics has just raised another $10 million, bringing the company’s total disclosed funding to $14 million, and boosting its goal of delivering the robot to a total of 50 CaliBurger locations.
The new $10 million funding round will also help bring Miso Robotics’ AI platform into other epicurean applications. As Zito noted, “The proceeds for this will allow us to build a robotic kitchen assistant. You’re not going to see BB-8 coming out of our shop; you’ll likely see us continue to refine this — the general hardware platform that we have, but then we will see it beginning to get more collaborative and adaptable.”
As for Flippy, the existing robot, this new kitchen assistant promises to be “portable, collaborative, and adaptable,” and “designed for real working kitchens.” The bot is a cart-like contraption that comes with a six-axis robotic arm and a “sensor bar.” Simply set up Flippy next to a standard grill or fryer, and it will detect necessary data from a thermal sensor, 3D sensors, and various cameras to help it detect its surroundings. It can even take your food orders directly thanks to a system that sends a ticket from the cashier straight to the kitchen.
While Flippy may not have the creativity of a chef, it does pretty well as a line cook. It’s capable of unwrapping burger patties, placing them on the grill, keeping tabs on the meat’s cook time and temperature, and letting its human counterparts know when they are ready to be taken off the heat. Of course, it still needs some help from our species, as Flippy isn’t (yet) able to add condiments or wrap up the finished products.
But Flippy is certainly pretty smart. Because it employs Miso Robotics’ artificial intelligence software, this robot is continuously learning and absorbing new recipes, which means that it can be helpful no matter what is on the menu. Still, if you’re looking to go to culinary school, don’t let Flippy discourage you. “Tasting food and creating recipes will always be the purview of a chef. And restaurants are gathering places where we go to interact with each other,” Zito concluded. “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.”
Update: Miso Robotics just raised $10 million to bring Flippy to more restaurants.