Robots make french fries faster, better than humans By Reuters

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© Reuters. The Flippy 2 robot pulls French fries out of a vat of oil at a lab at manufacturer Miso Robotics Inc in Pasadena, California, U.S., September 27, 2022, in this screenshot from a REUTERS video. Sandra Stojanovic/REUTERS TV via REUTERS

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PASADENA, Calif. (Reuters) – Fast-food fries and onion rings are going high-tech, thanks to a Southern California company.

Miso Robotics Inc in Pasadena has begun rolling out its Flippy 2 robot, which automates the process of frying potatoes, onions and other foods.

A big robotic arm like those in car factories – driven by cameras and artificial intelligence – takes frozen fries and other foods out of a freezer, dips them in hot oil, then drops the ready-to-serve product into a tray.

Flippy 2 can cook multiple meals with different recipes simultaneously, reducing the need for catering staff and, according to Miso, speeding up delivery of orders to drive-thru counters.

“When an order goes through the restaurant’s system, it automatically spits the instructions out to Flippy,” Miso general manager Mike Bell said in an interview.

“…He does it faster or more accurately, more reliably and happily than most humans,” Bell added.

Miso said it took five years to develop Flippy and recently made it commercially available.

The robot’s name comes from Flippy, an ancient robot designed to flip burgers. But once Miso’s team finished this machine, they realized there was a much tighter bottleneck at the fry station, especially late at night.

Bell said Flippy 2 caused a stir – at first.

“When we put a robot in a place, the customers who come in to order all take pictures, take videos, ask a bunch of questions. And then the second time they walk in, they don’t even seem to notice it, take it just for granted,” he said.

Miso engineers can watch Flippy 2 robots work in real time on a large screen, allowing them to help troubleshoot any issues that arise. A number of restaurant chains have adopted the robot cook, including Jack in the Box in San Diego, White Castle in the Midwest and CaliBurger on the West Coast, Bell said.

Bell said three other major U.S. fast food chains have put Flippy 2 to work, but said they were hesitant to advertise due to sensitivity to the perception that robots are taking jobs away from humans.

“The task humans are happiest offloading are tasks like the fry station. … They’re happy to have some help so they can do something else,” Bell said.

Miso Robotics has about 90 engineers, who tinker with prototypes or work on computer code. One of his next projects is Sippy, a drink-making robot that will take an order from a customer, pour drinks, put lids on them, insert a straw and bundle them.

Bell said that one day people “will walk into a restaurant and look at a robot and say, ‘Hey, remember the good old days when humans did this stuff?

“And on those days…it happens….It’s just a matter of…how fast.”

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