By Mayukh Saha / Truth Theory
Well, it is about time. We have had many movies telling us about the ‘inevitable’, i.e. the machines taking over! But as of now, we are just using machines for our help. We have integrated AI into robots for quite some time now as a way to make our workload easier. Flippy – a burger-flipping robot might just be the answer to all our wish… and fears.
Built by Miso Robotics, their website claims that Flippy happens to be the first autonomous robotic kitchen assistant. Why is it called an assistant? The reason is simple – as a ‘first’ model, it does make mistakes. But it is learning. It has a spatula tip and is made to operate alongside human beings helping them to do the mundane task of ‘flipping’ the burger as per a statement. It has image recognition and heat sensors which informs the robot when it is time to flip the burger. It can also clean off the grease automatically. Unveiled in 2017, it had taken the world by storm. It joined as staff in CaliBurger restaurant in Pasadena, California for its first job. It also has a cloud system which records and understand what it has to do. The cloud system is activated to be in a constant learning mode.
The owner of the burger chain is quite happy with the robot. It cuts down on the expenses a lot. Working on the grill is a pretty difficult task for humans. It gets quite hot and there are delays which might make the customers angry. There have been several occasions when the employee left because of the conditions. Plus, from a business point of view, training and retraining result in a lot of expenses. But if you get the robot, you have to invest about $60,000 and have a yearly expense of $12,000 for maintenance. All in all, it’s a huge profit. Plus, Flippy had not been assigned some of the major tasks like garnishing, putting the cheese, and serving. Those still have the human touch, until now at least.
Back in 2018, Flippy had a small setback. It was plugged out for some time because of certain issues with its human helpers. The thing is: Flippy works on time – it flips the burgers and waits for its human helpers to come in and take it from there. The problem was that humans like to take their time – sometimes spending time chatting with their colleagues or just taking a small unofficial break. This results in a delay. When Flippy is around you have to be on your feet and continue working – hard and fast. Plus, it seemed that Flippy too was facing a bit of issue with the pressure of the increased customers, many of whom came in to see a robot work.
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However, the break was not long. Flippy was brought back in 2018 itself with some modifications. Now, it was more reliable and worked like a ninja. CaliBurger plans to install the upgraded robot in about 50 of its locations by 2019. The company is really looking forward to automatizing much of the work. John Miller, the chief executive of the Cali Group has claimed that it is the future. He believes that someday, humans might demand robots to give them their burgers and they would probably not want a human to touch it.
Only time will tell what the future holds. Let’s hope that it is for the better.
Images Credit: Miso robotic