Miso Robotics is making moves to expand its restaurant automation beyond fryers and grills into QSR beverage stations. Last week Miso announced a partnership with Lancer Worldwide, a global manufacturer of beverage dispensers, to develop an automated, intelligent system designed to speed up and organize drink orders.
The forthcoming beverage dispenser will integrate with a QSR’s POS system, so when a drink order comes in the machine will grab the right size cup, fill it with ice, pour the ordered drink and seal it. Additionally, the system will intelligently group drink orders together under color-coded LED lighting, so its easier for an cashier to place them with the correct order.
The machine is still in the prototyping stage, so the exact size and form factor are still yet to be worked out. It will, however, hold 24 flavors of carbonated and non-carbonated drinks. Details around pricing and business model (lease versus direct sale) have yet to be worked out as well.
Up to now, Miso has been best known for Flippy, the robot that grills burgers and works the deep fryer at restaurants. The company also recently released a camera+software product called CookRight that allows smaller restaurants to get the same precise automated cooking of Flippy without the need for a robot installation. But honestly? While the details still need to worked out, this beverage robot could be a much bigger business for Miso than Flippy.
Not every QSR or restaurant serves burgers or deep fried foods — but they all offer drinks. Flippy requires installation in kitchens (that are big enough to begin with) that can limit exactly where human workers can stand and walk to avoid the robot as it moves about. The Miso/Lancer beverage dispenser will fit on a countertop and, based on how its described, easily slide into a QSR employee’s existing workflow.
The new dispenser is also arriving at the right time. Big QSR brands like Burger King, Chipotle, Shake Shack, KFC and more are pivoting to more drive-thru centric model and long wait times to pick up orders are a “dealbreaker” for customers. Adding automation to the beverage portion of an order could speed up expediting times, and if tied into AI-based ordering systems, human workers could spend less time placing cups under spigots and more time on customer service and other more complicated tasks.