Flippy the burger-flipping robot is already on break just one day after it started working at CaliBurger.
Flippy, a robot produced by Miso Robotics, made its debut at a CaliBurger restaurant this week, where it was brought in to flip burgers and replace humans. After one day, it looks like CaliBurger has put the robot on unpaid leave while it figures out how best to work side-by-side with the job-stealing automaton, USA Today reported Friday.
When news got out that a CaliBurger location in Pasadena, California was utilizing Flippy for its burger-flipping process, people were naturally curious to see if it was up to the task. Unfortunately, that increased demand proved to be difficult to keep up with. Not for Flippy — for the humans working next to it.
Anthony Lomelino, the chief technology officer at Cali Group (parent company of CaliBurger), told USA Today that although Flippy was living up to its promise of being able to cook 200 burgers per hour, the humans putting the raw patties on the grill and getting the buns and accoutrements ready were not up to the task.
Flippy is pretty smart — it can sense where burger patties are on the grill and knows when to flip them for the perfect cook — but it can't do everything. Flippy relies on people to place the patties on the grill, but they need to be placed with enough distance between them so Flippy doesn't mess it all up. Humans also need to get buns ready for the cooked patties on a separate counter, or else Flippy won't have anywhere to put the burgers.
CaliBurger isn't giving up on Flippy though. To make it all work together, CaliBurger is going to spend some extra time training its employees to work with Flippy, so in the meantime the robot is out of commission.
The reason CaliBurger isn't giving up is because the company said it has a hard time retaining employees in the burger-flipping position. The turnover is difficult to stay on top of.
"We train them, they work on the grill, they realize it’s not fun ... and so they leave and drive Ubers," Cali Group CEO John Miller told USA Today.
Although Flippy may be taking jobs from people, at least the people around Flippy will be making more than minimum wage. While Pasadena's minimum wage is currently $12 per hour (and scheduled to raise to $13.25 in July 2018), CaliBurger employees make $13 to $14 per hour.
Cali Group did not respond to our request for comment.