Eat | Drink | Puff

Hey California, you can now buy a hamburger cooked by a robot

What was once more likely to be happening in the background of an episode of “The Jetsons” is now happening in California. “Flippy,” an artificial intelligence-driven robot, is officially at work at the fast food restaurant CaliBurger in Pasadena.

And that’s just the beginning. More than 50 CaliBurger restaurants worldwide will be using the burger-flipping robots by the end of 2019, the company says.

Here’s what they look like.

FLIPPY | Miso Robotics from Miso Robotics on Vimeo.

Miso Robotics is behind “Flippy” and the company says its technology can learn to do more than just flip burgers.

"Much like self-driving vehicles, our system continuously learns from its experiences to improve over time," said David Zito, CEO of Miso Robotics. "Though we are starting with the relatively 'simple' task of cooking burgers, our proprietary AI software allows our kitchen assistants to be adaptable and therefore can be trained to help with almost any dull, dirty or dangerous task in a commercial kitchen — whether it's frying chicken, cutting vegetables or final plating."

A restaurant worker puts hamburger patties onto the grill and then the robot uses 3D and thermal scanners to see and flip them and transfer them to waiting buns when they’re ready. Footage of the robot in action shows that a restaurant worker dresses the hamburgers and wraps them up for selling afterward.

Flippy was getting a lot of attention on Monday thanks to news coverage by KTLA, across the pond in BBC News and other news outlets. KTLA reported that the $60,000 robot was officially put to work at the CaliBurger in Pasadena on Monday.

The news of a successful burger flipping-robot raised a lot of questions and discussion about what that might mean for fast food industry workers in the future. Fox News even described Flippy as “the job-killing, burger flipping robot.”

BBC asked the CEO of Cali Group, which owns CaliBurger, if he thought the typical restaurant in the future might have less human workers.

“I think that is very possible,” John Miller told BBC.

You can visit Flippy yourself at the CaliBurger location in Pasadena at 245 E. Green St. CaliBurger, which currently has one other California location in Bakersfield, only has a six month exclusivity period for the robot, according to Tech Crunch.

That means other restaurants could have robots at work flipping burgers near you in the very near future.


Twitter: @abbyhamblin

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