Robot burger chef rebooted after first shift in a commercial kitchen

A burger-flipping robot designed to bring unprecedented levels of automation to fast food kitchens has been taken off line after its first official ‘shift’ at a burger restaurant because staff could not keep up with it.

As revealed by FEJ last year, the ‘Flippy’ system developed by Miso Robotics claims to flip burgers twice as fast as humans and costs around £45,000 to buy.

US burger chain CaliBurger last week became the first operator to incorporate the device into a live kitchen environment, but it had to be pulled out of action at the end of its first day.

While some reports suggested the system was too slow and needed to be upgraded, USA Today said the restaurant simply didn’t have enough staff to prepare the buns for the grill and add other toppings, especially after it was over-run with business from curious customers. 

Flippy is capable of cooking up to 2,000 burgers a day, but it is understood that Miso Robotics is testing the code that controls the robot to ensure it can cope with peaks orders. Kitchen staff are also reportedly receiving extra training to help it keep up with demand.

It was not clear this morning if Flippy was back in action, but any hiatus is unlikely to be long given that CaliBurger plans to make it a central part of its cooking operations. It is thought that it intends to install the robot at a number of the 50 stores it will open before the end of this year.

Miso Robotics brands Flippy the world’s first autonomous robot kitchen assistant that can learn from its surroundings and acquire new skills over time.

It can recognise and monitor items on the grill, produce between 150 and 300 burgers an hour and be adapted to suit any commercial kitchen layout.

The system uses artificial intelligence that combines a 3D, thermal and regular vision to automatically detect when raw burger patties are placed on the grill and monitor each one in real-time throughout the cooking process.

As the patties cook, a screen displays the cooking time to alert kitchen staff when to place cheese on top or when to dress a burger. It also enables Flippy to switch from using a spatula for raw meat and one for cooked meat. In addition, Flippy has the ability to clean spatulas while cooking and to wipe the surface of the grill with a scraper.

Miso Robotics has secured more than $13m (£9m) in funding over the past year as it looks to develop and roll out Flippy system and its artificial intelligence service. Leisure caterer Levy has become one of the first companies to commit to the system and will introduce it to stadia sites in the US.

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