In Brief
  • Flippy is a 6-axis robotic arm mounted on a relatively small, wheeled cart. It can "watch" burgers as they cook and flip them at the right moment.
  • Rather than replacing chiefs, Flippy's designers say it is designed to help cooks with mundane tasks and reduce the risk of workplace accidents.

Robo Chief

A precise flip, timed at the right moment, can be the difference between a burger that is perfectly cooked and one that isn’t. In a burger joint, this responsibility falls to the cook who’s in charge of the grill. While that task is crucial, it isn’t free of risks — burns and cuts, plus the occasional slips and trips. It’s time the human cook gets a helping hand, or in this case, a flipping hand.

Introducing Flippy, the robotic kitchen assistant developed by Pasadena-based startup Miso Robotics. The Flippy robot is the company’s first attempt at reaching their rather unique mission of developing technology “that assists and empowers chefs to make food consistently and perfectly, at prices everyone can afford.”

Flippy is a 6-axis robotic arm mounted on a relatively small, wheeled cart. Equipped with what Miso calls a “sensor bar,” this robotic burger flipper can be installed beside or in front of any standard fryer or grill. It can “see” the burgers, buns, and cheese as they fry, thanks to its array of thermal sensors, 3D sensors, and different cameras. It can even stand aside if it’s obstructing a human cook.

Hello Automation, Good-Bye Jobs?

The kitchen is yet another industry ripe for automation. While Flippy doesn’t replace human chefs, it’s meant to free people who work in the kitchen from their more mundane tasks.

“We focus on using AI and automation to solve the high pain points in restaurants and food prep,” said Miso CEO and co-founder David Zito in an interview with TechCrunch. “The idea is to help restaurants improve food quality and safety without requiring a major kitchen redesign.”

Inventors keep finding ways to automate food preparation. While experts warn that this will inevitably reduce available jobs in this field, they may also make eating out less expensive.