A kitchen robot that can flip burgers twice as fast as humans will soon be available for restaurant operators to buy for around $60,000 (£45,000), it has been revealed.
US restaurant chain Caliburger has just become the first in the world to start using the ‘Flippy’ system and according to local media reports it has a six-month exclusivity period on the robot having been an early investor in Miso Robotics, the creator of the device.
The newest version of Flippy is configured to work specifically within Caliburger kitchen’s parameters and the chain is expected to introduce it to all 50 of its sites.
Flippy performs manual cooking tasks such as flipping burgers on a grill, but it will eventually be programmed to learn other tasks, including prepping and cutting vegetables.
At the recent 2017 Restaurant Franchising & Innovation Summit in London, John Miller, chairman and CEO of the group that owns Caliburger, said that robots will make QSRs and fast casual restaurants much faster, safer and more consistent. Machines will even detect pathogens in real time, he said.
“The kitchen can be entirely automated,” he commented, adding that his restaurants now feature self-ordering kiosks, a mobile app and a digital loyalty program. “We really think of ourselves as a technology company that happens to sell cheeseburgers.”
According to US trade publication Fast Casual, Miller and his team began by automating the grill and moving to other parts of the kitchen. They use existing robotic hardware in combination with AI-powered software. The system has been trained to recognise the different food products used and to learn from its mistakes as it performs kitchen tasks.
“We needed to focus on a solution that would integrate into existing kitchens,” he said. “With that, we don’t have to think about taking out any of our existing equipment.”
When it’s working, Flippy should be able to produce burgers twice as fast as people, reducing wait time, Miller said.