Would you eat a burger made by a robot? White Castle thinks you would. In fact, if you frequent the fast-food chain, you may have already.
Most people don’t exactly think of White Castle as a company at the forefront of innovation. However, the brand best known for its sliders is also making a name for itself in the tech world.
On Tuesday, White Castle increased its investment in a startup called Miso Robotics. The latter is known for Flippy, a robot that autonomously makes burgers. It is a clear signal to the rest of the food industry that times are changing. Indeed, robotics and food are becoming more intertwined thanks to innovative approaches like this one.
In September, White Castle started a trial run with a Flippy robot at one of its Chicago locations. Apparently that test went well because the fast-food chain is now expanding the program to include 10 more restaurants. At this point, the locations that will receive a Flippy unit of their own remain unnamed.
Regardless, it is a good sign for Miso Robotics.
The robotics company’s CEO and co-founder, Buck Jordan, says, “One thing that most people don’t realize about White Castle is that they’re real innovators. You know, their slogan is ‘Be Bold.’ They were the first-ever quick-serve restaurant, starting in 1921. They invented the category. They invented takeout.”
Now, White Castle is at the forefront of integrating robotics into the mix. Despite its name, Flippy doesn’t just flip burgers. The autonomous cook is also able to serve fries and prep a variety of different foods in the kitchen. So far, the single unit in Chicago has handled nearly 15,000 pounds of food since it was introduced to the restaurant.
Jordan says, “Our system was designed to [fit into any kitchen]. It’s overhead because we want to get out of the aisleway, which is critical in quick-serve restaurants. It’s also designed to be installed overnight.”
That means restaurants don’t need to close for renovations (and miss out on profits) to install Flippy. Instead, they simply close for the night and the robo-cook is ready to get to work the next day.
It’s undeniable that being a chef takes artistic precision. However, being a cook is more straightforward and task-oriented. That’s what makes robots perfect for the job. Doing mundane tasks like flipping burgers frees up time for human employees to focus on customer service and more complicated cooking tasks.
That increase in efficiency is exactly why companies are pursuing the idea of robotic kitchen helpers.
Another startup in the space, DaVinci Kitchen, is working on a robotic station that cooks pasta dishes from start to finish. Rather than selling the system to restaurants, DaVinci wants it to be the next big thing in high-traffic areas like shopping malls.
If White Castle’s latest investment proves anything, it’s that robotic cooks are here to stay. In the years to come, they will only become more popular.