The pandemic accelerates the adoption of automation across industries including the food services businesses. The impact on workers is irreversible.
By Greg Nichols.
A burger-flipping robot named Flippy, which is designed to hang upside down from a cook station in fast food kitchens, is now available globally for commercial customers, the bot’s maker announced today. Miso Robotics is hoping its Robot-on-a-Rail (ROAR) system will transform fast food, particularly with food prep challenges related to COVID-19 an ongoing problem.
The robot has undergone field trials in existing restaurants, including at select White Castle locations.
“We’re are incredibly excited to announce global commercial availability of Flippy ROAR,” said Mike Bell, CEO of Miso Robotics. “After we shared a sneak peek of the prototype in January, we’ve seen demand through the roof from operators, especially in light of COVID-19.
Miso Robotics is confident that this demand will set us up for success and provide the automation the industry needs to not only recover but accelerate growth.”
Miso debuted its updated Flippy ROAR earlier this year to respond to a difficult challenge for those hoping to bring automation into existing kitchens. Namely, there isn’t much space around the stove or griddle, and human coworkers tend to need whatever space there is to maneuver. Miso’s engineers figured out a space-saving solution via an upside down rail installed under a standard kitchen hood. The design allows Flippy to move laterally across a work area while keeping all the equipment out of the way of human coworkers.
Fast food has been in the crosshairs of automation developers for the past few years, with the quick serve pizza sector taking a lead thanks to cooking and delivery innovations.
Companies like McDonald’s have embraced automated kiosk-based ordering, and it’s a sure bet that automated food prep is close behind. The recent pandemic has only increased the likelihood of adoption as the restaurant industry looks to reopen and regrow. Miso Robotics is hoping to lure struggling businesses with attractive financing through TimePayments.
Naturally Flippy’s hardware is just the tip of the spear. The real magic happens on the backend in ChefUI, Miso Robotics’ proprietary software, which assists kitchen workers with operational interactions and workflows via a 15.6″ touchscreen. ROAR automatically identifies food temperatures and predicts time remaining, which means radical workflow optimization without compromising food quality.
In addition to powerful image processing and depth perception from Intel RealSense technology, Flippy ROAR utilizes machine learning to optimize cooking strategies for 19 foods. Keeping with the times, those include the Impossible Burger.
Of note during the pandemic, the robot comes with NSF International (NSF) certification, ensuring health and cleanliness standards are incorporated into new product designs.
“Certification to NSF/ANSI food equipment standards mean Flippy ROAR meets rigorous requirements for material safety, hygienic design and performance,” said Sara Risley, associate managing director of food equipment at NSF International. “The NSF mark signifies Miso Robotics’ commitment to health and safety – providing reassurance that the product can be easily cleaned to prevent foodborne illness and won’t leach harmful chemicals into food.”