Robots are becoming an ever-present feature of many jobs, from the high precision assembly of cars and rockets to providing information and assistance in Dubai. One California fast-food chain has thought of a new use for robotics technology, and it comes in the form of Flippy, the burger-flipping robot.
Caliburger was founded in 2011 and, despite its California-themed title has restaurants in many countries including Canada, Saudi Arabia, and China. But, at one of its Pasadena, California based restaurants, its shiny new employee has been causing quite a stir. Flippy is an automated robotic arm designed by Miso robotics to be an extra hand in the kitchen, particularly for times when there is high demand and a need for high-speed delivery of food without the mistakes that often come from rushing. Caliburger reportedly told USE Today that it intends to launch similar robotic arms in as many as 50 locations within the year.
While some have voiced concerns that this is the start of machines taking over jobs from fast-food employees, Caliburger is adamant that the robot is there to serve as a helping hand, not as a replacement. So far, this seems to be true. Flippy requires a human employee to place burger patties on the grill and season them before it can take over. Flippy then uses its high tech sensors to determine how well the burgers are cooking and flips them over efficiently at just the right moment. It can also differentiate between a range of objects and foods on the grill. All going well, Flippy can reportedly help cook 300 burgers in an hour. But it doesn’t just flip burgers. It also cleans and maintains its cooking utensils and the grill itself, ensuring high-quality food even over long stretches of cooking.
According to USA Today, the spectacle of a burger-cooking robot was more publicity than the new employee could handle. As customers flocked in to witness a burger cooked with machine-precision, Flippy had to be taken out of service and its data analysed to calibrate it for the higher volume of burgers it might be expected to produce in the future. As such, Flippy is taking a long weekend and is expected to return to work, ready to deal with a larger workload on Monday. All in all, Flippy is far from the first employee to feel a little overwhelmed in their first week on the job.