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Demand for robot cooks rises as kitchens combat COVID-19

Demand for robot cooks rises as kitchens combat COVID-19
Posted at 5:13 PM, Jul 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-17 15:59:17-04

HAYWARD, California (AP) — Robots that can flip burgers, make salads, and even bake bread are in growing demand as virus-wary kitchens try to put some distance between workers and customers.

Starting this fall, the White Castle burger chain will test a robot arm that can cook french fries, corn dogs.

The robot, dubbed Flippy, is made by Pasadena, California-based Miso Robotics.

In June, Flippy began working full-day shifts - 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at CaliBurger in Pasadena.

“We have demonstrated that Flippy can work on our standard equipment and meet high volume demand with substantially greater cooking consistency than our kitchens that have not yet installed Flippy,” said Tony Lomelino, Chief Technology Officer of CaliBurger in a press release. “Additionally, we have developed a program to retrain our restaurant staff to serve as ‘Chef Techs’ that work alongside Flippy and monitor the related software and hardware systems. We expect these skills will be useful for employees across our chain to secure higher income jobs that require human/robotic interaction in the future restaurant industry and other industries.”

Robot food service was a trend even before the coronavirus pandemic struck.

Chowbotics, which makes a robot called Sally that makes salads, has been used by hospitals and universities to meet the demand for fresh, customized options 24 hours a day.

But Chowbotics and others say demand is booming as food service providers seek ways to limit interaction and keep workers and customers safe.