A burger-flipping robot called Flippy will be at work in CaliBurger restaurants by early 2018.
Miso Robotics, the inventor of Flippy, has raised $3.1 million in Series A venture funding.
Miso Robotics. The southern California start-up has built a robotic "kitchen assistant" called Flippy to do the hot, greasy and repetitive work of a fry cook. Flippy employs machine learning and computer vision to identify patties on a grill, track them as they cook, flip and then place them on a bun when they're done.
Miso is part of a budding kitchen automation industry. Its peers include Zume Pizza, Cafe X, Makr Shakr, Frobot and Sally, which are developing robots to help commercial kitchens churn out pizzas, lattes, cocktails, frozen yogurt, and salads.
Employee turnover in the restaurants and accommodations sector was 73 percent in 2016, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Fry cooks, the people who flip burgers (or fillets) all day at a hot grill, move on from the job faster than others in the field.
Rather than build a robot from the ground up, Miso integrates the best of available components on the market, including robotic arms, sensors and cameras. It develops proprietary control software to enable the robots to work as cooking assistants in complex environments right alongside humans.
The company will use the capital to produce its first commercial Flippy units. It expects to roll Flippy out, starting at the Los Angeles CaliBurger, in the first quarter of 2018, Zito said. Along with its investment, Acacia will provide the start-up with patent and intellectual property-related services, helping Miso Robotics prepare for global expansion.