An automation company in Southern California has rolled out robots, arguably believed to be faster and better than humans, that automate the process of making French fries.
Miso Robotics Inc in Pasadena recently rolled out the Flippy 2 robot which has enabled the integration of high-tech processes in fast-food French fries and onion rings. These processes automate deep-frying potatoes, onions, and other foods.
A long robotic arm such as those in auto plants, directed by cameras and artificial intelligence, takes frozen French fries and other foods out of a freezer, dips them into hot oil, and then deposits the ready-to-serve product onto a tray.
French Fries Robot to Reduce Catering Staff
According to Miso Robotics, Flippy 2 can simultaneously cook several meals based on various recipes, reducing the need for catering staff and speeding up order delivery at drive-through windows.
“When an order comes in through the restaurant system, it automatically spits out the instructions to Flippy,” Miso Chief Executive Mike Bell said in an interview.
“It does it faster or more accurately, more reliably and [more happily] than most humans do it,” Bell added.
Miso said that the robot’s name comes from Flippy, an earlier robot designed to flip burgers. The automation company also noted that it took five years of development until the recent commercial release.
When Miso’s team finished that machine, they realized there was a much tighter bottleneck at the fry station, particularly late at night. Bell said Flippy 2 makes a splash—at first.
“When we put a robot into a location, the customers that come up and order, they all take pictures, they take videos, they ask a bunch of questions,” Miso chief said. “And then the second time they come in, they seem not to even notice it, just take it for granted.”
Miso said that its engineers can watch Flippy 2 robots working in real-time on a big screen, enabling them to help troubleshoot any problems that crop up.
A number of restaurant chains have adopted the robotic fry cook, including Jack in the Box in San Diego, White Castle in the Midwest, and CaliBurger on the West Coast, Bell said.
Fast-Food Chains Sensitive Over Robots Replacing Humans
Miso Chief Bell said three other big U.S. fast-food chains have put Flippy 2 to work, but says they’re hesitant to advertise because of sensitivities about perceptions that robots are taking jobs away from humans.
“The task that the humans are most happy to offload are tasks like the fry station… They’re delighted to have the help so they can do other things,” Bell said.
Miso Robotics announced that one of its next projects is Sippy, a drink-making robot which will take an order from a customer, pour drinks, put lids on them, insert a straw, and group them together.
Bell said that someday, people will “walk into a restaurant and look at a robot and say, ‘Hey, remember the old days when humans used to do that kind of thing?’”
“And those days…[are] coming…It’s just a matter of…how quick,” Bell said.
The California automation company has around ninety engineers, who tinker with prototypes or work on computer code, giving confidence in the realization of anticipated projects.