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Flippy the Robot Got Fired

Burger-flipping robot was turned off for not being able to keep up with demand.
March 13, 2018

​CHICAGO – The Chicago Tribune writes the Flippy the burger-flipping robot, which can churn out 150 burgers per hour, was supposed to revolutionize a Caliburger location in Pasadena, California.

However, after being inundated with customers eager to see Flippy in action, Cali Group, which runs the fast food chain, realized the robot couldn’t keep up with the demand and retrained staff to work more efficiently alongside the robot.

The news source adds that those who are worried about a robot takeover in the foodservice industry may take comfort in knowing that Flippy needs human guidance. “Mostly it’s the timing,” Anthony Lomelino, the chief technology officer for Cali Group, commented. “When you’re in the back, working with people, you talk to each other. With Flippy, you kind of need to work around his schedule. Choreographing the movements of what you do, when and how you do it.”

The Tribune writes that Flippy is designed to take burger orders through a digital ticketing system, then flips the burger patties and removes them from the grill. It uses thermal and regular vision, as well as cameras, to detect when the raw meat is placed on the grill, then monitors each burger throughout its cooking process. Flippy can rotate through spatulas for raw meat and cooked meat to prevent cross-contamination, and clean those spatulas while the burgers are cooking.

“The kitchen of the future will always have people in it, but we see that kitchen as having people and robots,” David Zito, co-founder and chief executive of Miso Robotics, told KTLA in Los Angeles. “This technology is not about replacing jobs. We see Flippy as that third hand.”

Per the Tribune, Flippy could help with high turnover in the fast-food industry, “which sees as much as 50% of staff at a given restaurant leave within a year,” and spends about $3.4 billion annually in recruiting and training.