When the burger-flipping robot Flippy debuted last year, the Miso Robotics contraption seemed to be mostly a futuristic curiosity. But today, Flippy fulfilled the purpose it had been built for. After a year-long testing period, a model of the robot is now hard at work flipping burgers at a Caliburger restaurant in Pasadena, California.
Looking like a large arm swathed in a chef jacket and mounted on a cart, it comes with a spatula at one end. Using thermal imaging and cameras, Flippy can tell when a burger needs to be flipped and taken off the heat. Flippy can also switch out dirty spatulas for clean ones, and can even scrape the grill. According to local news outlet KTLA, artificial intelligence is a part of its programming, meaning that Flippy has the potential to get better at its job over time.
Caliburger, which helped fund Flippy and Miso Robotics, plans on rolling its technology out to restaurants across the world. At the same time, the rise of robots has sparked anxiety about their potential to replace humans at jobs, particularly entry-level positions. On the flip side, the founders of Miso Robotics argue that grill cooks are exposed to the danger of sizzling grease and stovetop burns, and that the vocation itself has what restaurants consider an expensively high turnover rate.
But there might not be cause to worry just yet. Flippy has a steep $60,000 initial price tag and a yearly fee for the bot’s “learning and maintenance.” Plus, Flippy still needs a human hand to help it lay a slice of cheese on each burger.
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