Flippy, the burger flipping, fry cooking robot, is auditioning for a new gig in Walmart’s deli department, according to Yahoo Finance. The retail giant has been testing Flippy out at its Culinary Institute and Innovation Center, where the robot fries up items like potato wedges, mozzarella sticks and chicken tenders.
This wouldn’t be the first time Miso Robotics‘ Flippy worked a fryer. The robot got a gig this past summer at Dodger Stadium, where it helped cook up more than ten thousand pounds of chicken tenders and tater tots, churning out up to 80 baskets per hour.
As we wrote earlier, there are three core technologies powering Flippy’s fry capabilities:
At the fryer, Flippy uses the Miso See, Miso Serve and Miso Move technologies to fry up the aforementioned tenders and tots. Miso See allows Flippy to identify food, cookware and utensils. Miso Serve helps the robot make real-time cooking decisions. Miso Move controls Flippy’s movements to make sure it is working safely and efficiently. All together, Flippy can put full baskets in the fry oil, monitor the cooking time (and gently shake the baskets while cooking), remove the baskets to drain the oil, and set the food at a designated location for serving.
It should come as no surprise that Walmart is mulling over adding Flippy to its cooking team. Walmart likes to use robots for manual, repetitive tasks and already has them scanning store shelves, cleaning floors and potentially even driving shopping carts.
But that’s three jobs at Walmart that will potentially be performed by robots and not humans. Miso Robotics CEO, David Zito told Yahoo Finance, “Our whole thing is not about job replacement, right….What we want to do is assist the hardworking linemen cooks and chefs in America with tools to give them the ability to faithfully reproduce while taking the burden off some of these more repetitive and mundane tasks.” For its part, Walmart says having robots handle these repetitive tasks frees up humans to prep other food and do more customer service.
While there are mountains of ethical issues coming down the pike as robots take more of our jobs, the fry cook is one where it might actually make sense. In addition to being manual and repetitive, there’s also a certain level of danger associated with standing over a vat of hot oil. Robots,however, don’t get burned, and because they use software to precisely repeat its tasks all day, they won’t burn your tenders.