Flippy the Fry Cook

March 1, 2020
Flippy the Fry Cook

The new and improved Flippy the robotic fry cook will probably see greater implementation.  Its price has been cut in half, bringing it down to $30,000, while improved capabilities give it more versatility.  Specifically, Flippy’s programming has been upgraded as part of this improved flexibility.  Flippy utilizes AI to manage its tasks.  Flippy has already been used at Caliburger’s Pasadena restaurant, at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, and at Chase Field in Arizona.

Creator’s hamburger robot takes a different approach.  Creator’s goal is to make a gourmet burger that would be affordable, making it available to a large audience.  Using quality ingredients, the company is aiming for the $6 price point.

Creator has built into this robot processes and techniques that differentiate its burger from the vast majority of fast casual restaurants.  For example, it uses the Blumenthal method of making burgers.  This method uses a vertical grind method for the meat that creates an extremely tender and juicy hamburger.  Most chefs find this technique very difficult, and is not used in fast casual restaurants.  Creator’s robot has perfected this method.  Additionally, the robot slices many of the ingredients, such as pickles, while assembling the burger.  As a result of focusing on the quality of the burger, it produces one that compares favorably to burgers from high-end restaurants.

Video Spotlight:

This post is based on the National Restaurant News article, Flippy, The Robotic Fry Cook by Miso Robotics, Gets Makeover Aimed at Widespread Restaurant Industry Adoption, by Nancy Luna, January 27, 2020; the Fast Casual article, Can A Robot Become the Ultimate Burger ‘Creator?’, by Cherryh Cansier, January 29, 2020; and the YouTube videos in the Video Spotlight. Image source: Shutterstock/Tatyaby.

Discussion Questions:

1. Why use a robot to produce hamburgers?

Guidance: In the case of Creator, it is to bring a superior burger, and  make it available to a wider audience.  By using processes that are difficult to duplicate in the fast-casual dining segment, a gourmet burger can be produced at the $6 price point using quality ingredients.  Fast casual restaurants will be hard pressed to compete on quality against this burger.  Even high-end restaurants will have difficulty.

Flippy is more focused on cost.  Its reduced cost and increased flexibility make it a good choice to take over duties in the kitchen.  Quick-serve restaurants are struggling to find employees in today’s economy.  Technology such as Flippy may be able to fill the void.  Additionally, it will remove employees from the smoke and splattering grease that come from being a fry cook.  Adding Flippy will free up employees to perform other tasks.

2. What are the impacts on the employees?

Guidance: The immediate impact is the displacement of workers.  Fewer cooks would be needed.  However, they will be replaced by people manufacturing the robots, and maintaining and servicing the robots.  Additionally, the robots may need to be programmed, as well as possible interfaces with other software, such as ordering software.  This creates additional jobs in programming.  Displacement of workers has occurred for many years, first in the agricultural section, followed by manufacturing.  It appears that it is now moving into the service sector.  But, new jobs are also being created.


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