After a successful pilot program, White Castle just announced that robotic fry cook Flippy will work in an additional 10 restaurant locations in 2021.
Robot assistant Flippy from Miso Robotics became commercially available earlier this month for $US30,000, or on a payment plan, with plans to eventually lower the price. Flippy is attached to a rail under the kitchen hood to move back and forth while manning the grill and fryer.
“After we shared a sneak peek of the prototype in January, we’ve seen demand through the roof from operators, especially in light of COVID-19” Miso Robotics CEO Mike Bell said in a press release. The coronavirus pandemic has hit restaurants hard, but fast-food chains have recovered faster with the drive-thru and takeout business not relying on indoor dining, compared to fast-casual chains.
White Castle says it will use Flippy to staff night shifts and food prep while employees are increasingly focused on preparing takeout and delivery orders. “Artificial intelligence and automation have been an area White Castle has wanted to experiment with to optimise our operations” Lisa Ingram, White Castle CEO, said.
Here’s how Flippy works in White Castle kitchens.
White Castle first announced a pilot program with Flippy in July.
Flippy can place baskets in the fryer, shake baskets in oil, and monitor for appropriate cooking time to make chicken tenders and tater tots.
The newest version of Flippy works while attached to an overhead rail.
The design was created to assist busy cooks in a quick-service kitchen, installed under a kitchen hood to move along equipment while staying out of the staff’s way.
Flippy can take over some of the more dangerous kitchen tasks, like deep frying behind a safety shield to protect staff from hot oil.
ChefUI, Miso’s proprietary software, can identify food types and temperatures, and learn new foods.
A monitor on the robot tells the staff what orders are up next, and staff can also adjust cooking times here for custom orders.
Flippy is able to be completely washed down, and tools are automatically switched and cleaned too.
Using Flippy reduces human contact with food, and enables social distancing as fewer employees are required in a crowded kitchen.
The robot arm even got a uniform sleeve to look like part of the team.
Since Flippy started at White Castle in September, it has cooked about 14,580 pounds of food in 9,720 baskets.