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Robotics Businesses The Almighty Buck Technology

Flippy the Robot Takes Over Burger Duties At California Restaurant (ktla.com) 226

Chain eatery CaliBurger announced today that its location in Pasadena is the first to employ Flippy, a burger-flipping robot developed by Miso Robotics. The robot is able to take over the cooking duties after a human puts the patties on the grill. KTLA reports: "The kitchen of the future will always have people in it, but we see that kitchen as having people and robots," said David Zito, co-founder and chief executive officer of Miso Robotics. Flippy uses thermal imaging, 3D and camera vision to sense when to flip -- and when to remove. "It detects the temperature of the patty, the size of the patty and the temperature of the grill surface," explained Zito. The device also learns through artificial intelligence -- basically, the more burgers that Flippy flips, the smarter it gets. Right now, cheese and toppings are added by a co-worker. CaliBurger CEO John Miller says the robot can cut down on costs as it will work a position that has a high turnover rate. "It's not a fun job -- it's hot, it's greasy, it's dirty," said Miller about the grill cook position. Less turnover means less time training new grill cooks. Flippy costs about $60,000 minimum and is expected to be used at other CaliBurger locations soon.
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Flippy the Robot Takes Over Burger Duties At California Restaurant

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  • Does Flippy flip flimsy fast food flippantly? Throw in Talkie Toaster and I'm THERE.

  • Strange solution (Score:4, Interesting)

    by religionofpeas ( 4511805 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2018 @06:24AM (#56215373)

    Using a general purpose assembly robot to flip burgers at a normal grill seems like a poor solution. Why not use a conveyor oven ? Or a two sided contact grill for one or two patties.

    • It's not a general purpose robot! All it can do is flip burger patties already sitting on a grill. It can't even put cheese on top of the patty, that has to be done by a human.

      Why not use a conveyor oven ?

      Because nobody wants a baked hamburger.

      Or a two sided contact grill for one or two patties

      That would actually make sense if I were building a burger factory to churn out ten thousand patties a day. That's how I'd do it.

      However this is just one restaurant and it's probably making only a few hundred patties a day. You wouldn't want to spend too much money on a whole new automated grill

      • Because nobody wants a baked hamburger.

        At a fast food joint . . . would anybody be able to taste the difference . . . ? Or even care . . . ?

        Although, alternatively, they could claim that robot baked burgers are healthier than human greasy fried ones.

        That would actually make sense if I were building a burger factory to churn out ten thousand patties a day.

        Ha! I gaze in pity at your puny production! The sign outside my fast food restaurant says "Billions and Billions Served"!

      • by epine ( 68316 )

        However this is just one restaurant and it's probably making only a few hundred patties a day.

        That makes no sense. 100 burgers a day for three years is 100,000 burgers served. Once you load NPV onto TCO, you're adding near $1 per burger just to cook the patty.

        I can see the ROI kicking in at the 500 burger per day range, but they've probably started at locations closer to 1000 burgers per day (circa 100 burgers per hour, with a steady service window of 10 hours).

      • There is a french fry machine for restaurants (something like "perfect fries") that is a self-contained system that pops out either a single serving of fries or a batch of several servings that is closer to the GGP's comment; it doesn't take making thousands of burgers a day-- just being optimized for what it does need to do.

        Likewise, automated drink machines hardly seem like a challenge for anything from the drive-through at McDonalds to Starbucks-- they might not be able to do everything, but triage of th

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      That is a question of cost, space, numbers and equipment that is already there. Sure, if there was a market for 100'000 of these per year, they would probably come as a complete replacement for the cooking station. But there is not. So a general-purpose tool gets adapted. Also, this is the first iteration, optimization will be done when it is known how large the market is.

    • by p0p0 ( 1841106 )
      Novelty. People also might not like the assembly line look of a burger conveyor, ironic considering it's also an assembly line tool that does the flipping.
    • by mjwx ( 966435 )
      The human labour intensive component of making burgers is the assembly. As yet we don't have an effective automated method of putting on salad or condiments. So even stores that use conveyor grills (or robots) will still require staff to make the burgers.

      However I see this specific experiment doomed to failure because Flippy sounds too much like Clippy (but the publicity will be worth it, I've never heard of CaliBurger).
    • Using a general purpose assembly robot to flip burgers at a normal grill seems like a poor solution. Why not use a conveyor oven ? Or a two sided contact grill for one or two patties.

      This is actually what Burger King does. They stick the patties on a conveyor belt that goes through a flame broiler and comes out the other side. You don't need a whole lot of technology to automate burger making.

    • Marketing sold some fool a bunch of bullshit.
    • If you use an arm, they can use a standard cheap grill. For now, all it does it flip burgers, but either with a second arm, or with attachments on the primary arm, it could switch to do more tasks itself (adding cheese, and the top of the bun.) the arm is a good step along the way, where the moving bed doesn't give a step on the way to further automation.
    • Isn't a conveyor what Burger King has been using for > 40 years now? It's "flame grilled" too. So, it's not "baked". Seems that McD's is just catching up with competition here.

    • by Socguy ( 933973 )
      I think people are missing the point that automation technology is continually advancing. Sure flippy today requires someone to place the burgers etc. but tomorrow the robot has now taken over salting and next year it's placing the burgers... then assembling the burgers... time goes by... now it's handling the payments as well...

      A decade from now it's not unreasonable to assume there will be joints where the human employees visit only sporadically when there is a problem. 2 decades from now it's anyon
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 06, 2018 @06:39AM (#56215399)

    ...is not going to be happy with this.

  • maybe we should better have a robot who eats this crap.

  • by Ly4 ( 2353328 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2018 @07:13AM (#56215471)

    How is this an improvement over the double-sided grills that cook both sides at the same time?

    Example: http://www.garland-group.com/P... [garland-group.com]

    • How is this an improvement over the double-sided grills that cook both sides at the same time?

      Example: http://www.garland-group.com/P... [garland-group.com]

      To use burger universe vernacular, the little old lady looks at that burger machine and barks, "Where's the hype . . . ?"

      It isn't labeled "Autonomous AI Robotic Automation" and isn't "Powered by Bitcoin Blockchain Technology."

      Hook it up to a Raspberry Pi that reads from /dev/random and prints it on a cheap display and add a coin slot labeled, "Insert Bitcoins Here", and then folks would get interested in it.

    • by rhazz ( 2853871 )
      McDonald's had those when I worked there. I'd wager the difference is that this thing also independently monitors meat temperature and also removes them from the grill. I can see value in the temperature check alone.

      One day when I worked at McDonald's, the meat hadn't been taken out of the deep freeze early enough and so the burgers weren't fully cooked after their preset cook time. They looked fully cooked on the outside (thanks to the double-sided grill press), but were quite raw in the middle even on t
  • McDonalds transitioned to use a two sided "clamshell" grill several decades ago, so there has been no burger flipping for some time.

    Also this robot is quite slow compared to a human.

    Not a useful robot.

    Perhaps customers like to see the robot flipping action.

    • by Socguy ( 933973 )
      Yes, there is a marketing aspect to this.

      But don't forget, a robot that 1/10th the speed is still profitable if it's 1/100th the cost.
  • It's just flipping burgers. Will it make me a rare one if I ask for it?
    Someone else is apparently putting the burgers on the grill, and cheese, and assembly of the burger.

    Does the FDA have to approve kitchenbots, to ensure they're not using toxic fluids, non-sealed batteries, or lead based paint?

    I know one thing for sure, there's probably some guy making $30 a day under the table, cleaning the grease dishes, and the robot.

  • All this does is flip the burger. There's already robots that cool and build the whole thing. How is this news? It's like showcasing a iPhone 6s as something new.

  • Why would you go through the effort of making a robot arm to do this?
    Seems to me you could bake these burgers in the same way bread is baked.
    A conveyor belt that moves the burgers over the fire in a consistent way.
    • by arth1 ( 260657 )

      Why would you go through the effort of making a robot arm to do this?
      Seems to me you could bake these burgers in the same way bread is baked.
      A conveyor belt that moves the burgers over the fire in a consistent way.

      In that case, the customer might as well go to McDonalds or Burger King. That people go to CaliBurger is at least in part due to a perception that the burgers are cooked better.

  • 1) Store burgers in a specially designed freezer that can be loaded and unloaded via robotics from a delivery vehicle.
    2) The outside facing door opens and closes on robotic hinges.
    3) Burgers are delivered on a carousel mail-slot system so that 8 stacks of 150 1cm thick burgers can be delivered directly from the truck to the restaurant. Make room for two of these stacks so that one can be empty and being replaced while the other is in use.
    4) When a patty is needed, a door to the freezer is opened via robotic
  • ... the smart, AI-driven robot also figures that it's "not a fun job -- it's hot, it's greasy, it's dirty.", too. Going to have a robotic Sponge-bob hash slinging slasher [wikia.com] on your hands.

  • Right now, cheese and toppings are added by a co-worker .

    What the actual fuck? No, this thing doesn't have co-workers.

  • All those English Majors not finding any job will now end 'putting' burgers instead of flipping them.

  • You could get a rewarding job in a fast food "restaurant" as a "patty plopper". Do you have what it takes to keep up with Flippy?
  • Safety Cage (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Marc_Hawke ( 130338 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2018 @12:46PM (#56217011)

    How can a human put the stuff on the grill, or put the cheese on afterwards? Do they have to shut down the robot, enter the safety cage, exit the cage, turn on the robot. I don't see how you can do that with 'food' sitting on the grill.

    The pictures in the article don't show any room. The human co-worker would have to slide up next to the robot, get smashed in the gut or the head by a heavy steel pneumatic arm, and then they wouldn't have to worry about their minimum wage job anymore.

    • Safety cages are only required when you can't push the machine back by hand.

      There are no safety cages on elevator doors (for example).

  • Is essentially basic In-N-Out ripoff, Check out their menu and compare.
    This is just a publicity stunt

  • I've been to the Pasadena location... It's attached to a club that does rock concerts.

    The burgers are meh. Only good thing about the restaurant is they will loan you a wireless charging ring for your phone while you're eating. Oh. And the shakes.

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