Flippy, the hamburger cooking robot, gets its first restaurant gig

Today at Disrupt SF, we got our first look at Flippy in its final form. Miso Robotics has been showing off its burger-flipping “robotic kitchen assistant” for several months now, but today’s food robotics panel marks the first time we’ve actually seen it put to work in a real-world kitchen.

No surprise, Caliburger is the first restaurant to get its hands on a Flippy. The fast casual restaurant has started demoing the robot in its Pasadena location — Miso’s home turf. The company was an early investor in the startup — in fact, according to CEO and co-founder David Zito, the restaurant actually helped inspire Flippy’s current functionality as a burger flipping ‘bot during early conversations with the startup.

Caliburger also pre-ordered a number of the robots, with plans to implement them in 50 of its restaurants. While U.S. based, the food chain is international, with many of its locations in places like Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Pasadena get first crack at the robot, however, with Flippy currently operating in secret behind a black curtain. 

In some ways, the robot hasn’t changed too much since its earliest days. Flippy is still essentially an industrial robotic arm. The biggest difference from a purely design standpoint is in Flippy’s hand. The clasping claw from earlier has been updated to a classic spinning spatula. The upgrade took a lot of programming on Miso’s end, but it was necessary. After all, you need the easiest to clean surface when dealing with raw meat — you really don’t want that stuff getting caught up in a device’s various nooks and crannies.

The new version of Flippy is also bolted to the kitchen floor and configured to work specifically with the Caliburger kitchen’s parameters. The restaurant has a six month exclusivity period on the robot. After that, interested parties will be able to pick up for around $60,000, a price that will likely increase over time as Miso continues to add new functionality to the robot. The company is working on a number of new features for the robot, including advanced computer imaging and AI that will help it adapt over time to things like a changing seasonal menu.

The startup is also announcing a partnership with Kitchen United at today’s show that will bring Flippy robots to the “WeWork for restaurants.” Miso will be utilizing the information gathered at the space to improve its artificial intelligence and machine learning software.