Robot cook could help restaurants recover from COVID-19

Flippy ROAR is ready to flip restaurants’ burgers and fry their fries — for $30,000.

Just in time for Christmas, Miso Robotics has announced that the latest version of its burger-flipping robot Flippy is now for sale — for $30,000.

So, yeah, that might put the robot cook a little outside Santa’s price range, but good boys and girls aren’t Miso’s target consumer.

The company is hoping to entice restaurants to take a chance on the technology as a way of saving money — and staying open — during the pandemic.

The Robot Cook

At its core, Flippy is a robotic arm equipped with an array of cameras and sensors. These feed data to the bot’s AI-powered software, which is trained to know when a burger is ready to be flipped or a basket of fries is finished cooking. Flippy even knows when and how to clean the grill.

Restaurant workers communicate with the robot through a touchscreen monitor, which they can use to make changes to orders. Currently, Flippy can cook 19 items, including the meat-free Impossible Burger, and its software is designed to make it easy to train the bot to cook new items.

Initially, the robot cook was stationary — place it in front of a grill or flyer and there it would stay — but in January, Miso unveiled Flippy Robot-on-a-Rail (Flippy ROAR), a prototype of the robot that could glide between different stations on an overhead rail system.

In July, White Castle announced it was installing a Flippy ROAR at a location in Chicago as part of a pilot project, making it the first fast-food chain to take a chance on the robot cook. Now, Miso is making Flippy available to anyone.

Flippy ROAR for Hire

Flippy ROAR costs $30,000 right now, but Miso’s goal is to get that down to $20,000. Currently, it is giving restaurants the option of financing Flippy ROAR.

The company also hopes to launch a program that would let restaurants “hire” the robot cook for a $1,500 monthly fee that would include updates and maintenance.

This would be cheaper than hiring a human to work the fryer, and that cost savings could make Flippy particularly enticing right now, when many restaurants are at risk of closing permanently due to the pandemic.

“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,” CEO Mike Bell said in a press release.

“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,” he continued.

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