The robotic fry cook Flippy is getting a new look

Jonathan Shieber

Miso Robotics, the designers of the world's most popular robotic fry cook "Flippy," is giving their burger-flipping, french fry-prepping robot a new look.

The company has designed a new installation for its robotic arm that slots under the hood above a fry station instead of planting the robot on a kitchen floor.

It's a move that's designed to save space and improve efficiency as the company starts pitching its robotic chefs to quick-service restaurants like McDonald's and Burger King around the country.

Miso's move comes even as other startups attempting to automate the preparation of everything from pizza to burgers are getting burned. Zume, the formerly high-flying would-be robotic pizza maker and packaging company, recently had to lay off a chunk of its workforce, and Creator, the automated burger prep restaurant, is still operating from a single location in San Francisco two years after its launch.

Taste test: Burger robot startup Creator opens first restaurant


By contrast, Flippy is now being used in both Dodger Stadium and the Arizona Diamondbacks' Chase Stadium, along with its installation in restaurants backed by Miso Robotics investor Cali Group.

[vimeo 340051113 w=640 h=360]

Speaking of investments, Miso Robotics is hoping to leverage the more than 1 billion views the company's promotional videos have received on social media by launching a crowdfunding campaign through SeedInvest that could net the company up to $30 million.

For Ryan Sinnet, Miso Robotics co-founder and chief technology officer, the new design will be able to boost adoption among quick-serve restaurants and help solve some of the staffing problems that have hit the fast food industry.

"They can save on food costs, labor costs and improve the real estate footprint" with the new design, says Sinnet. "We are showing how this robot will improve profit margins by a set amount."

The redesigned Flippy

The redesigned Flippy, which now fits above the fry station.

The ultimate goal is to offer the robot for free and charge restaurants a fee for the use of the robot, according to Sinnet. The robotics-as-a-service model is already popular in the logistics industry, where warehouses are improving margins through increased automation, but robots have yet to make significant enough inroads into the restaurant business to make the business model work... so far. 

Flippy's new look is only a prototype right now, cooking up batches of fried chicken strips, onion rings and french fries at Miso Robotics' test kitchen headquarters in Pasadena, Calif. But the robot will be certified and available for kitchens by the second half of the year, according to Sinnet.

The company has already signed an initial contract with Caliburger, which will net the business $11 million over five years for its burger-flipping robots. Miso Robotics said that it already has over one million reservations.

"This can go into 80% of kitchens," says Sinnet. "We designed this whole system to generalize what it means to cook in a kitchen."

Flippy solves the vision problem -- identifying what items to cook; the scheduling problem -- how to time and prioritize different menu items; and fulfillment of multiple orders, says Sinnet.