White Cas­tle hires ro­bot

‘Flippy’ will help re­duce hu­man-to-food con­tact

USA TODAY US Edition - - MONEY - Dalvin Brown

White Cas­tle has plans to usher ro­bots into the kitchen.

The burger chain an­nounced a part­ner­ship with the artificial in­tel­li­gence firm Miso Ro­bot­ics on Tues­day. Un­der the col­lab­o­ra­tion, White Cas­tle will de­ploy Flippy, a ham­burger flip­ping ro­bot, later this year.

The idea is to re­duce hu­man con­tact with food dur­ing the cook­ing process and comes af­ter many restau­rants were crip­pled due to the pan­demic, White Cas­tle said in a state­ment.

“The de­ploy­ment will put au­ton­o­mous fry­ing to work for en­hanced pro­duc­tion speeds, im­proved la­bor al­lo­ca­tion and an added layer of health and safety in the cook­ing process,” the burger chain said.

The restau­rant didn’t ad­dress how many work­ers could be dis­placed by ro­bots, though it did say that “team mem­bers can be re­de­ployed to more cus­tomer-ex­pe­ri­ence driven tasks.”

White Cas­tle has 365 restau­rants na­tion­wide and is well-known for its slid­ers, which you can buy frozen from su­per­mar­kets. Founded in 1921, White Cas­tle is also one of the old­est fast food chains in the U.S.

Miso Ro­bot­ics claims to have cre­ated the “world’s first au­ton­o­mous ro­botic kitchen as­sis­tant that can learn from its sur­round­ings and ac­quire new skills over time.”

Flippy might look fa­mil­iar.

In 2018, the ro­botic arm turned over chicken tenders and tater tots at Dodger Sta­dium and flipped burg­ers at Cal­iburger in Los Angeles. The ro­bot was pulled from Cal­iburger tem­po­rar­ily af­ter launch­ing be­cause it was too slow.

White Cas­tle will get an up­dated ver­sion of the ro­bot called Flippy ROAR. The orig­i­nal ro­botic arm worked from a fixed po­si­tion. Flippy ROAR, or ro­bot on a rail, ex­tends from above and can slide along a line of kitchen equip­ment.

Miso Ro­bot­ics had pre­vi­ously said that the ro­bot can au­to­mat­i­cally de­tect the tem­per­a­tures across the fryer, mon­i­tor the cook­ing process and dis­play the cook­ing time on a screen.

White Cas­tle ex­pects to de­ploy at least one ro­bot this fall. If suc­cess­ful, the brand will ex­pand its use of Flippy.

COUR­TESY OF THE LA DODGERS

White Cas­tle plans to de­ploy the ro­bot Flippy to re­duce hu­man con­tact with food amid the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

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