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White Castle to deploy hamburger-flipping robot
- July 23, 2020
- Steve Rogerson
US fast-food hamburger chain White Castle is to deploy Flippy, an autonomous hamburger-flipping robot from California-based Miso Robotics. The robotics start-up for commercial kitchens has also announced its first funding round in the UK.
The services sector is seeing a new impetus for automation as it builds back post pandemic, ensuring more resilient businesses and safer working environments and food production for staff and customers.
The company previously raised over $17m in funding rounds in the USA, following a valuation of over £64m in 2019. The equity crowdfunding round is being hosted in collaboration with Crowdcube with the aim of raising over £24m in new funding worldwide, supporting expansion into Europe. The low barrier to entry and £10 minimum investment means anyone can invest.
Founded in 2016, Miso Robotics’ has drawn attention across the USA and internationally for its kitchen assistant Flippy that cooks burgers, fries and chicken. The kitchen assistant arm can learn from its surroundings and acquire new skills, and is already deployed across the US market at CaliBurger restaurants and iconic venues such as the Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles through Levy Restaurants, part of the UK based Compass Group. White Castle will now deploy Flippy to modernise its operations.
“White Castle is an industry innovator, and we take a great amount of pride in our history, never forgetting about the future ahead,” said Lisa Ingram, CEO of White Castle. “With 100 years of quick service success, the time has never been more perfect to envision what the next century of White Castle and the restaurant industry looks like. Miso Robotics understood where we could improve and stay true to White Castle’s brand of taste, innovation and best-in-class dining. A great customer and employee experience is in our DNA, and we are thrilled to bring the future into our kitchen with solutions that will transform the industry and make the White Castle experience all that it can be for generations to come.”
Heavily impacted by Covid-19, fast-food outlets are beginning to reopen, working hard to build resilient operations that offer safer working environments and food production for staff and customers. Robots can be a key piece of the puzzle and the future fast-food experience as they are now more affordable and available on a subscription service basis.
More than 350,000 robots are estimated to have been sold to the services sector last year according to the International Federation of Robotics.
The burger-flipping robot can create a safer and healthier work environment for staff and food production by reducing human-to-food contact. It also completes mundane tasks quickly, and can increase profit margins. Shops in the USA deploying Flippy have projected an increase in profit margins of approximately 300%.
Miso Robotics has also recently announced a partnership with PathSpot and Pop ID to advance sterile and safe cooking environments. PathSpot is a hand-scanning device, which can check an employee’s hands in two seconds to determine whether pathogens are present. This will be integrated into Flippy. Pop ID, a face payment platform, attaches to doors to scan and measure the body temperatures of staff, delivery drivers and guests, and can detect if the person has a fever.
“Automation in fast-food restaurants is becoming a necessity, not a choice,” said John Miller, chairman of Cali Group and CEO of Pop ID. “As consumers return to restaurants with higher expectations, Flippy and health screening technologies like Pop ID are helping the sector fill staffing gaps and deliver top quality food in the most hygienic way possible.”
Miso Robotics was founded with a mission to leverage AI technology to help chefs cook food perfectly and consistently and enable restaurants to increase labour productivity, reduce costs and drive profitability while improving the overall dining experience. Miso employs a team of scientists, roboticists, engineers and industrial designers from Caltech, Cornell, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Harvey Mudd, UCLA, USC, Art Center and UNC Chapel Hill.
“We are excited to open our first round of funding in the UK, a market where we see huge potential for the growth of the fast-food sector and its use of smart technology to improve the experience for both customers and staff,” said Buck Jordan, CEO of Miso Robotics. “Technology is going to play a vital role in helping restaurants build back better, from improving health and safety to allowing workers to focus on less mundane roles. Crowd funding means that everyone has the opportunity to invest and be part of this emerging and exciting sector.”
White Castle has nearly 400 outlets across 13 states, mostly in the mid-west of the USA.