Burger Flipping Robot Takes A Break

A burger-flipping robot is on a break from work after it appeared to be too slow to meet demand. But ‘Flippy’ might not be to blame.

The robot, made by Miso Robotics, was set to work at a Cali Burger restaurant in Pasadena. It uses image recognition to keep track of the burgers on a grill and heat sensors to determine when each needs flipping. (And it also uses ‘being a robot’ to avoid going crazy through tedium.)

Cali Burger says it plans to put the robots into 50 restaurants, sparking debate over automation of jobs. It’s not necessarily a case of the robot being any better than the human at burger flipping. Instead the chain says the high turnover of employees in this specific role makes the cost of recruiting and training staff a problem.

Flippy ‘worked’ for only two days before being withdrawn from service, something the restaurant is blaming on an unusual (if inevitable) spike in business caused by the media coverage. It appears Flippy is able to cope with the workload as it can handle 2,000 burgers a day.

However, the restaurant doesn’t have enough staff to keep up with the steps in the production process immediately before and after grilling the burgers (namely preparing the patties and adding lettuce to the grilled burger) and then synchronize with Flippy.

Another problem to be solved is that human staff can talk to one another and adjust their operating speed to avoid logjams. With Flippy, everyone else has to work around the robot’s schedule.