Dunvegan Thought Spot


In the research The Dunvegan Group conducts to support our CCR™ (Customer Care & Retention™) programs, we discover articles, blog posts and videos which, although not directly related to our work, are thought provoking or concern matters you may want to think about.  ‘Thought Spot’ covers a broad range of subjects.

The posts in ‘Thought Spot’ are selected by Olev Wain, Ph.D., VP of Research at The Dunvegan Group. 

We welcome your feedback!



Meet ‘Flippy’ – CaliBurger’s Robot Hamburger Cook

CaliBurger is a California-based hamburger restaurant chain similar to Five Guys, In-N-Out and Shake Shack. It positions itself as a tech company that also sells hamburgers.

While in the restaurant, customers can play games such as GemJump and Minecraft and see the results of interactive in-house gaming amongst its customers displayed on a huge video wall.

Currently, CaliBurger has restaurants in 13 countries including China, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and Sweden.

Automation of some jobs is the next step for CaliBurger. Line cooks are the target.

Writing on singularityhub.com, Vanessa Bates Ramirez provides details (edited version):

CaliBurger has partnered with a company called Miso Robotics and developed ‘Flippy’, a robotic kitchen assistant, and recently installed one in their Pasadena, California location.

Flippy the bot is more than just an assembly line robot requiring an organized work space with ingredients being precisely positioned for it to cook hamburgers.

Flippy incorporates the latest machine learning and artificial intelligence software to locate and identify all things that are in its workspace and to learn from its experience through a constant feedback loop.

The bot consists of a cart on wheels with a single six-axis arm providing full range of motion allowing it to perform multiple functions.

It has an assortment of tools such as spatulas, scrapers and tongs which it can change by itself, depending on the task.

Some of the bot’s key tasks include pulling raw patties from a stack and placing them on the grill, tracking each burger’s cook time and temperature, and transferring cooked burgers to a plate.

Sensors on the grill-facing side of the bot take in thermal and 3D data, and multiple cameras help Flippy ‘see’ its surroundings. The bot knows how many burgers it should be cooking at any given time through a system that digitally sends tickets back to the kitchen from the restaurant’s counter.

Nevertheless, a human is required to finish the burger. Flippy alerts human cooks when it’s time to put cheese on a grilling patty. A human is also needed to add sauce and toppings once the patty is cooked, as well as wrap the burgers that are ready to eat.

Two of the bot’s most appealing features for restaurateurs are its compactness and adaptability—it can be installed in front of or next to any standard grill or fryer, which means restaurants can start using Flippy without having to expand or reconfigure their kitchens.

Because this bot ‘machine learns’, it can also learn to prepare other foods on the menu.

According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, there were 2.3 million chefs in 2014 in the United States; line cooks are included in this figure.

Flippy takes care of jobs around the grill that are repetitive and dangerous due to the possibility of cuts or burns.

I believe many line cooks operating in a repetitive-task environment can and will be replaced by automation. Bots like Flippy are more reliable than humans, can work longer shifts, provide a uniform product and never call in sick. Nor are there any personnel issues.

The argument has been made that destruction of one job will lead to the creation of another job; in the case of robots like Flippy, new tech jobs will certainly be created to manufacture and maintain these devices.

These new jobs require higher levels of technical expertise, things that line cooks cannot be easily re-trained to do.

The prospects for people losing jobs through automation, are not good, particularly for those whose entire skill set has been replaced by an ‘intelligent’ bot.

Your thoughts?

Image courtesy of chiarito at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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