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Robotic Chefs Are Getting Better

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If You Like Fast Food.

Jamie Condliffe reports: Cordon Bleu chefs needn’t worry about losing their jobs to robots just yet. But a number of startups think that some straightforward culinary tasks could soon be automated in fast food kitchens.

This week, TechCrunch reported that a company called Miso Robotics has developed a new burger-cooking robot called Flippy. The robot arm uses a selection of tools to place patties on a grill, monitor how they’re cooking with cameras and thermal sensors, then drop them onto a bun ready for a human to garnish.

The results aren’t as graceful as a fine-dining chef—rather, patties appear to be dropped onto your bun with the elegance of a trainee burger flipper. But the results have impressed the restaurant chain CaliBurger enough for it to try the technology out in 50 restaurants in the coming two years.

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Elsewhere, Silicon Valley startup BeeHex has developed a robot that can 3-D print pizzas. Initially kick-started by NASA funding in an attempt to find new ways to provide food for astronauts, the device squirts out dough, tomato sauce, and cheese to form something resembling a pizza in just one minute, then cooks it for five more. The firm’s stellar aspirations have been abandoned for now, though: instead, the robot will pop up in theme parks and malls over the coming year.

While you’re waiting for your automated dinner to arrive, other robots may be happy to fix you a drink. Cafe X in San Francisco, for instance, will deliver you a steaming coffee via one of its robotic baristas, while Las Vegas is about to get a robotic bartender to whip up cocktails.

What is clear from these machines is that roboticists are making progress in automating food production. In 2015 …  (read more)

Meet Flippy, a burger-grilling robot from Miso Robotics and CaliBurger

  writes: Pasadena-based Miso Robotics is rolling out a new “robotic kitchen assistant” called Flippy.

Miso Robotics CEO and co-founder David Zito said, “We focus on using AI and automation to solve the high pain points in restaurants and food prep. That’s the dull, dirty and dangerous work around the grill, the fryer, and other prep work like chopping onions. The idea is to help restaurants improve food quality and safety without requiring a major kitchen redesign.”

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Miso Robotics was funded in part by the quick service restaurant, CaliBurger,which makes and sells “California style burgers,” and operates in 12 countries today. Canyon Creek Capital and individual angel investors have also contributed funding to help Miso Robotics get started.

All of Miso Robotics employees went to work in CaliBurger kitchens as grill cooks before and while working on the original design of Flippy. Getting behind the grill and cooking with and without Flippy is a regular part of Zito’s job, the CEO said. Now, CaliBurger has committed to using Flippy in 50 of its restaurants, at least, over the next two years. It has already been testing Flippy in a Pasadena restaurant, the companies said.

The Flippy robot takes the form of a relatively small, wheeled cart equipped with a 6-axis robotic arm and what Miso Robotics calls a “sensor bar.” It can be installed in front of or next to any standard grill or fryer. It takes in data from thermal sensors, 3D sensors and different cameras onboard to perceive its environment. Digital systems that send tickets from the counter back to the kitchen give Flippy its orders. … (read more)

via MIT Technology Review and TechCrunch

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