Will Robots Eventually Replace Grill Cooks at Restaurants?

What if your restaurant staff no longer had to flip burgers? Instead, a robotic kitchen assistant would do all the grilling, so your grill cooks could stay out of harms way and focus their efforts elsewhere.

Well, this may be the step-up of restaurant kitchens in the not so distant future. 

The Pasadena-based Miso Robotics has developed "Flippy", a “robotic kitchen assistant” for the CaliBurger, a quick-serve chain with stores in 12 countries.

“We focus on using AI and automation to solve the high pain points in restaurants and food prep. That’s the dull, dirty and dangerous work around the grill, the fryer, and other prep work like chopping onions. The idea is to help restaurants improve food quality and safety without requiring a major kitchen redesign," said David Zito, CEO and co-founder of Miso Robotics.

All of Miso Robotics employees worked firsthand as grill cooks in CaliBurger kitchens in order to develop Flippy. 

The CaliBurger in Pasadena has already been testing Flippy and the restaurant plans to roll the robot out to 50 of its restaurants over the next two years. 

But, Flippy doesn't just flip burgers.

"The Flippy robot takes the form of a relatively small, wheeled cart equipped with a 6-axis robotic arm and what Miso Robotics calls a “sensor bar.” It can be installed in front of or next to any standard grill or fryer. It takes in data from thermal sensors, 3D sensors and different cameras onboard to perceive its environment. Digital systems that send tickets from the counter back to the kitchen give Flippy its orders," writes "Tech Crunch."

Flippy can grab burger patties and place them on the grill, determine if the burger is fully cooked or needs more time, and then alert the staff that the burger is ready for toppings. 

Miso Robotics isn't the only company developing this kind of technology. Momentum Machines has a burger-making robot too. So, how is Miso's Flippy different?

"Flippy is controlled by Miso Robotics’ AI software. AI and machine learning enable the robotic cook to learn to make new foods, adapting to a restaurant’s seasonal menu changes," writes "Tech Crunch."

It looks as though quick-serve chains are leading the way when it comes to utilizing new technology in their stores. Wendy's announced late last month that a more recognizable technology, kiosks will be installed in 1,000 of the chain's stores. 

With the impending spike of the minimum wage, chains are looking at ways to cut labor costs. Flippy may be a solution. 

So is this just the beginning of robots taking the place of restaurant employees? Read more.