Fully autonomous restaurant set to open in Pasadena
At the new CaliExpress by Flippy, opening soon, you'll order on a screen, then watch as robots work the burger grill and fry baskets to serve food – without a single pimply human having to drag itself out of bed and pretend to be happy to see you.
It's the robo-restaurant of the future, celebrating a transaction that will proceed from soup to nuts without any forced personal interaction. "Flippy" robot arms on rails will scurry from station to station, filling fry baskets, shaking and banging them as they lower them into the oil.
AI systems will grind wagyu beef freshly to order, then watch the grill as Flippy's robot arms get their spatula on, making sure each patty is cooked just so, and sliding them onto buns along with the requisite vegetation and sauces.
You can see some of that process below, in a 2021 video focusing on the tech.
“To our knowledge, this is the world’s first operating restaurant where both ordering and every single cooking process are fully automated,” said John Miller, board member of Miso Robotics, creators of the system. “The marriage of these various technologies to create the most autonomous restaurant in the world is the culmination of years of research, development, and investment in a family of revolutionary companies.”
The autonomous burger station will be off to the side of a manned burger bar, so there'll still be human workers around to clean up Flippy's mistakes and stare sullenly at the machines that'll soon allow fast food joints to "be run by a much smaller crew, in a less stressful environment ... While also providing above average wages."
Naturally, it's being set up as Instagram bait, with the robots in full view as they work, and Miso is also creating a "pseudo-museum experience" in which retired burger flipping robot arms are made to dance for customer pleasure. The company hopes it will "inspire the next generation of kitchen AI and automation entrepreneurs" – both of them.
If I'm coming across as grumpy and dismissive about this endeavor, my apologies – but perhaps you'll forgive me – or even join me – after watching the promotional video below, in which two tweenage girls text things like "hey! He is so cool" to each other, then take selfies, then do painfully awkward robot dances before jumping up and down, whooping and hollering when the robot tips some cooked fries out.
And then we see a conspicuously non-autonomous looking pair of gloved human hands actually sticking the burger in a box, as the transaction comes to a close at the "world's first fully autonomous, AI-powered restaurant."
In some sense, the surprise is more that this is as good as a commercial fast food robot gets in 2023, than the fact that it's handling most of the workflow. Certainly, we can expect this tech to advance rapidly, and to be displacing human teenagers en masse from the workforce by the time the two girls above have finished their master's degrees and started looking for jobs.
Source: Miso Robotics