Flippy the Robot: Fast-Food Robotics

Many students (and professors when they were young) have likely worked in the fast-food industry in one capacity or another. Probably the most dreaded jobs there are in the hot and greasy areas of the fryer and grill. However, despite the grease and hours, the unemployment rate for restaurant workers today is the lowest on record (U.S. Labor Department). But, the industry also faces a lot of employee turnover and still requires more workers. So, why not get help in the more undesirable positions?

Give a warm welcome to Flippy the Robot! Engineered by Miso Robotics and now employed at 10 CaliBurger restaurants in California and Dodger Stadium in New York, Flippy is an autonomous robotic kitchen assistant that can learn from its surroundings and acquire new skills. Flippy can work at the grill or fryer, cooks perfectly and consistently, can automatically switch tools, cleans, and is OSHA safety compliant.

While some wonder if robotics will lessen the need for human employees, most restaurants need more employees to handle extended hours, increased demand, and provide better customer service. Robotics are intended to help employees, not replace them.

The best part? Flippy never complains about long hours and always shows up for work on time!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the use of robotics in businesses, including fast-food restaurants.
  2. Poll students: Who has worked in fast-food at fryers or grills? What was the experience like?
  3. Show Miso Robotics videos: https://misorobotics.com/
  4. CaliBurger restaurant: https://caliburger.com/
  5. Discuss the buying process for organizations. Who would influence the decision-making?
  6. For Flippy the robot food-preparation product, have students work on the actions taken in each of the five steps.
    1. Problem recognition?
    2. Information search?
    3. Evaluative criteria?
    4. Purchase decision?
    5. Post-purchase behavior?
  7. What are key considerations in each step?
  8. Debrief the exercise.

Source: Jargon, J. & Morath, E. (24 June, 2018). Short of workers, fast-food restaurants turn to robots. Wall Street Journal

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