On Monday, CaliBurger in Pasadena unveiled its first robot employee. Flippy, created by Miso Robotics, can grill 150 burgers every hour. The Chicago Tribune reported that it receives orders through a digital ticketing system, and detects the cook of each patty using thermal vision and cameras. In addition, the robot can clean spatulas and scrape the grill. The Miso Robotics website also noted that Flippy has AI capabilities and can handle up to “100,000 hours continuous uptime.”
Even with all of Flippy’s bells and whistles, there are several things that it can’t do. For example, it can’t place the raw patties on the grill, nor can it put cheese, dressing and other toppings on the burger. For these tasks, CaliBurger relies on its human staff.
On Flippy’s first day of work, CaliBurger was overwhelmed with orders, as news of the robot spread quickly. In the end, the robot had to be turned off temporarily, and Miso Robotics deemed the human workers could not keep up with Flippy. USA Today noted that the staff is receiving training.
The CEO of the Cali Group, John Miller, described his issues with maintaining staff at CaliBurger locations for the reasons the company invested in a robot employee.
“We train them, they work on the grill, they realize it’s not fun… and so they leave and drive Ubers.”
In comparison, a robot would never complain about the work being boring, or ask for a new job.
CaliBurger commissioned Flippy, but Miso Robotics expects to sell this model to other restaurants for $60,000. Tech Crunch added that in addition to the initial price tag, the restaurant pays a 20 percent annual fee, which comes out to $12,000. In comparison, CaliBurger pays its employees somewhere between $13 to $14 an hour. This equates to an annual salary of $27,040 to $29,120.
Other industries are also turning to robots to replace human workers. For example, Amazon uses over 100,000 robots in locations worldwide, according to the New York Times. Whenever a robot replaces a human worker, the worker becomes a robot operator or moves to other departments. Dave Clark, a top executive of operations at Amazon, emphasized: “the people didn’t go anywhere.”
Likewise, at CaliBurger, the human employees are still in demand. That is unless a second robot is invented to help Flippy. Considering Miso Robotics already created a robot that can flip burgers and cook them to perfection, it doesn’t seem far-fetched to imagine another robot that can place raw patties on a grill and put toppings on burger buns.