The World’s Oldest Fast-Food Chain to Invest More in AI, Automation

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Oct 29, 2020
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White Castle, the world’s oldest fast-food chain, will increase its use of a robotic burger-flipping fry cook. The robot chef is called Flippy robot-on-a-rail (ROAR) and was built by Miso Robotics. It was first trialed at only one restaurant in July.

Apparently, that trial went well because the chain will now expand its use to 10 more restaurants. However, this generation of Flippy is a bit different than the one that was previously tested. This version can be used at different workstations by moving along a rail. It can also be loaded up with food that can be dispensed on to a grill or into a fryer, and it has the ability to cook 360 baskets of food each day.

Flippy is part of a trend that is seeing artificial intelligence (AI) and automation becoming more common in restaurant kitchens.

"Artificial intelligence and automation have been an area White Castle has wanted to experiment with to optimize our operations and provide a better work environment for our team members," White Castle CEO Lisa Ingram said in a statement. "We believe technology like Flippy ROAR can improve customer service and kitchen operation. This pilot is putting us on that path – and we couldn't be more pleased to continue our work with Miso Robotics and pave the way for greater adoption of cutting-edge technology in the fast-food industry."

The automated cook has proven to be especially useful for late-night shifts and during the pandemic. With many restaurants needing to have less staff working in order to maintain a socially-distanced kitchen, Flippy provides a solution by eliminating the need for some of those people. Likewise, late-night shifts are often difficult to staff, yet there is no shortage of customers. Flippy can easily pick up those shifts that no one wants to work.

"We have been so excited to work closely with White Castle to optimize Flippy ROAR to meet the needs of their kitchen for increased production, team member optimization, and quality assurance," Chairman and President of Miso Robotics Buck Jordan said." Our platform has become increasingly powerful and intelligent – allowing us to quickly scale, integrate into operations, and show our ability to help keep customer service standards on par with White Castle's industry reputation of excellence.”

While having been in operation for nearly 100 years, White Castle is known within the industry as being innovators.

“One thing that most people don’t realize about White Castle is that they’re real innovators,” Jordan told Digital Trends. “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. They were the first quick-serve restaurant with a website, the first to serve the Impossible Burger, which [Flippy] can also flip, the first to do a bunch of things. Now they’re the first ones with a fully autonomous fry chef.”

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