Miso Robotics Inc. today announced the global availability of its Flippy Robot-on-a-Rail, or ROAR system. The Pasadena, Calif.-based company said its gantry robot for commercial kitchens can quickly learn menu items and is a cost-effective way to cook consistently for acquiring and retaining customers.
As the restaurant industry looks to reopen after the COVID-19 pandemic, Miso Robotics said robotics is critical for addressing challenges such as indoor staffing and dining limitations, the need for enhanced health and safety procedures, and improving margins as delivery and takeout grow in popularity.
Miso Robotics said it has developed robots and artificial intelligence to enable restaurants to increase labor productivity, reduce costs, and drive profitability while improving the overall dining experience. Miso employs scientists, roboticists, engineers, and industrial designers from Caltech, Cornell, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Harvey Mudd, UCLA, USC, Art Center, and UNC Chapel Hill. The company is raising funding through equity crowdfunding with SeedInvest.
Flippy ROAR can increase production speeds and address social distancing concerns in the kitchen, claimed Miso. The robot enables staffers to shift to roles at the “front of the house,” where needs have increased for customer service-oriented activities like heavier and regular cleaning regimes, delivery and takeout order fulfillment, and outdoor ordering and hosting, it said.
Flippy ROAR relies on Intel vision
Earlier this year, Miso unveiled a prototype of Flippy that glided across multiple workstations on a rail. The final design mounts Flippy on an overhead rail, keeping it out of the path of busy kitchen staffers to increase safety and throughput. Toyota Research Institute last week demonstrated a home kitchen prototype with a similar concept.
Flippy ROAR interacts with a food hopper that dispenses the right amount of food for preparation before moving to the cooking station, said the company.
With the Intel RealSense Depth Camera D415, Miso Robotics’ ChefUI software can not only identify food and temperatures, but it can also learn and reclassify new foods introduced to Flippy. Staffers can also opt to change cooking times and alter portion sizes for foods coming out of the hopper in response to customer requests.
“Intel RealSense technology is used to develop products that enrich people’s lives by enabling machines and devices to perceive the world in 3D,” said Joel Hagberg, head of product management and marketing at Intel RealSense Group. “We are excited to be a part of the new Flippy ROAR design that delivers new automation and intelligence to the restaurant industry.”
ChefUI adapts to additional ingredients
New back-end advancements to Miso’s proprietary ChefUI are intended to assist kitchen workers with operational interactions and workflows. They include an easy-to-navigate dashboard view of the Web-based application displayed on a 15.6-in. touchscreen monitor mounted on the ROAR system.
Through the dashboard, employees can see the foods in line to be prepared next, said Miso. ChefUI is able to identify current temperatures, predict time remaining to meet consistency in taste, and alert staffers of unsafe internal cooking temperatures,
Along with enhanced camera, thermal sensing, and user interface capabilities, Flippy ROAR uses advances in machine learning to quickly adapt to new menu items. The robot’s frying abilities now include 19 total food items, including chicken, fish, corn dogs, waffle fries, and the Impossible Burger, said Miso.
With a different patty make-up than the traditional burger, Impossible Burgers require special cooking care to lock in the flavor and taste that has made them popular across quick-service restaurant chains and independent operators. The combination of advanced computer vision and deep learning software enables Flippy ROAR to account for differences in texture and thickness of the Impossible Burger, in real-time, adjusting its grilling technique.
Safety key to competitiveness
Adapting to new food trends is key for operators looking to attract customers and stay competitive as delivery and takeout offer customers a wider pool of choices amid the pandemic. Operators reopening restaurants are facing smaller margins, less foot traffic and new health and safety concerns, said Miso Robotics.
The need to minimize the risk of contamination and scale production with limited staffing options due to social distancing concerns – quickly – has never been more important for the industry. With that in mind, Miso Robotics said it has acquired NSF International (NSF) certification as it brings Flippy ROAR to market. NSF is an independent, global organization that certifies products to regulatory standards and protocols to ensure that health and cleanliness standards are incorporated into new product designs.
“Certification to NSF/ANSI food equipment standards means Flippy ROAR meets rigorous requirements for material safety, hygienic design, and performance,” said Sara Risley, associate managing director of food equipment at NSF International. “The NSF mark signifies Miso Robotics’ commitment to health and safety – providing reassurance that the product can be easily cleaned to prevent food-borne illness and won’t leach harmful chemicals into food.”
Flippy ROAR gives operators a certified product to decrease human contact in the cooking process, and recent partnerships with PopID and PathSpot are also intended to reduce the risk of contamination in kitchen environments.
Flippy ROAR offered through RaaS
“We’re are incredibly excited to announce global commercial availability of Flippy ROAR,” said Mike Bell, CEO of Miso Robotics. “After we shared a sneak peek of the prototype in January, we’ve seen demand through the roof from operators, especially in light of COVID-19. Miso Robotics is confident that this demand will set us up for success and provide the automation the industry needs to not only recover but accelerate growth.”
To help operators tackle regrowth challenges immediately, Miso Robotics has partnered with TimePayments to help food service providers quickly adopt automation. The company also plans to modify its robot-as-a-service (RaaS) model to reduce the upfront costs of Flippy ROAR and include a monthly software fee for operators.