- Flippy is built by Miso Robotics, and can fry food, flip burgers, and more. It's already used in stadiums, venues, and restaurants like the Dodger Stadium.
- The White Castle and Miso collaboration has been in the works for a year, but the pandemic sped up the fast-food chain's push for automation due to delivery demand and a move toward contactless cooking.
- White Castle's vice president, Jamie Richardson, told Business Insider that Flippy won't replace human employees. Instead, Richardson said that Flippy will free up time for employees to focus on fulfilling delivery orders.
- To see Flippy in action, watch the video below.
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The robotic fry cook is no longer science fiction.
White Castle plans on testing a new robotic chef named Flippy in its kitchens starting September, the chain announced on Tuesday in a press release emailed to Business Insider. Flippy Robot-on-a-Rail, or ROAR, is built by Miso Robotics and can move from workstation to workstation to fry food, flip burgers, and more. Flippy also learns from its surroundings to become more accurate and efficient.
"It can really bring AI into the kitchen in ways that have never been done before," Miso Robotics CEO James "Buck" Jordan told Business Insider in an interview.
Flippy already has a small but established presence at stadiums, venues, and restaurants including the Dodger Stadium. But Miso's test pilot with White Castle may mark Flippy's first entry into the big leagues: fast food. White Castle vice president Jamie Richardson said that although Miso and White Castle have been working together for about a year, the pandemic accelerated White Castle's push for automation.
"Consumers are looking for less touch in a kitchen environment," Richardson told Business Insider. "This is something that really caught our attention in terms of how can we invest in the kitchen of tomorrow, today."
Richardson and Jordan both anticipate the delivery boom caused by the pandemic to continue.
"There's just this new normal that everyone's trying to grapple with," Jordan said. "How do you deal with this explosion of delivery and all while maintaining the quality you need? A lot of these things are solvable through automation."
Richardson said that if Flippy becomes widely implemented in restaurants, it won't replace human jobs. Instead, Richardson said that kitchen automation will allow staff to focus on efficiently getting food to delivery drivers.
"We're not dialing down on the number of people in a restaurant," Richardson said. "We're looking at Flippy as a tool that helps us increase speed of service and frees team members up to focus more on other areas we want to concentrate on, whether that's order accuracy or how we're handling delivery partner drivers and getting them what they need when they come through the door."
Jordan also said that Flippy is able to coordinate food production so that it's cooked at the exact moment delivery drivers arrive.
Flippy will be tested in the kitchen of one White Castle and will be working the fry station before potentially expanding its duties to the grill. To see Flippy in action, watch the video below.
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