Almost a year ago, a burger chain, Caliburger, announced that it will employ a unique worker to date, which will be a robot named Flippy. Recently, the robot, Flippy has finally graduated from this training and now working as a cook in the burger joint. The AI-based robot from Miso Robotics will be working with the human crew of the restaurant. Since September 2017, Flippy has practiced and learned at Caliburger’s Pasadena restaurant. The robot was hired as a full-time staff recently.
The CEO of Miso Robotics who created Flippy with Cali Group, David Zito, said, “People see a robot, they hear robot, they assume job replacement. This isn’t about replacing jobs. This is about a third hand in the kitchen.” More companies are looking to get more hands in the kitchen as the partnership with Caliburger and interest from many other companies has given Miso Robotics funds of almost $14 million. Flippy can help close a gap between the high turnover rates which are associated with being a line in the cooking industry as fast-paced as quick the service is.
Zito said in an interview, “Flippy is novel, but definitely not a novelty. As it improves its speed and skillset over time such as frying, chopping and grilling menu items and adding seasoning or cheese to patties, CaliBurger will see an increase in productivity. In addition, we’ve modeled our pricing based off expected value each robotic kitchen assistant can provide at scale.” Despite the efficiency, precision and general ‘happy’ persona of the robot. Many workers have pointed out the hypocrisy of employers to invest in robots and not in the real humans.
Flippy costa $60,000 and this price is certainly much more than what an average cook can make in one year. Miso Robotics also ask the owner of Flippy to invest in a 20% recurring annual fee for the maintenance and service of Flippy. If the companies are investing such huge amounts in the robots which are much more expensive than humans, people are wondering if humans are also going to get such investments ever or not.
In the US, various states are trying to raise the minimum wages to $15 per hour so that people can earn something better each day. Getting a new job cannot work because of the lack of jobs in the market. A McDonald’s worker from Detroit who was an active worker in the union-backed Fight for $15 movement, said in an interview, “People who work in fast-food aren’t scared of robots – what’s really scary is getting paid so little we need food stamps and public assistance to take care of our families.”
Miso Robotics and other leaders in the Cali Group are not intending to replace the humans. They say that they want to provide stability for other customers and other employees. John Miller, CEO of Cali Group said, “We train them, they work on the grill, they realize it’s not fun…and so they leave and drive Ubers.” Miller said that he will bring the robots to other restaurants in Seattle, Washington D.D., Annapolis, and Baltimore.