We’ve warned you about the impending robot takeover time and time again. They’re delivering food. They’re loading our dishwashers. They’re assembling our Sweetgreen Harvest Bowls. And soon one company in particular will make sure that our favorite fast food chains all start employing robots at their locations all around the world.
Miso Robotics’ website states that its mission is to “make restaurant operations safer, easier, and friendlier.” The company’s focus is on creating AI robots to assist with things like frying food and serving drinks, eliminating “dull, dirty, and dangerous tasks in restaurant kitchens.”
The company’s initial investment was completely crowdfunded, which resulted in $50 million raised by 18,000 investors over two years, according to Food on Demand. Now an international partnership is signaling the potential for extreme growth on the horizon, opening up the opportunity for Miso to put ITS robots in 20 million restaurants, Entrepreneur reports.
The move comes amid not just a national labor shortage, but a global one. According to Bloomberg, labor shortages are costing Germany’s economy as much as $85 billion per year. Miso’s robots, like the fry cook Flippy (whom we met at White Castle), each cost around $3,000 a month to rent, and we did the math—it ends up replacing slightly over four full-time workers. It becomes an efficient solution to the labor shortage, and Miso firmly maintains that its robots aren’t here to replace workers, but simply to fill in the gaps that we’ve seen since the pandemic, letting “robots do robot work” and “people do people work.”
Miso already has its robots operating at more than a dozen brands, with four different robots serving slightly different purposes:
- Flippy 2: Operates the fry station, primarily cooking and serving up french fries and wings at places like White Castle, Jack in the Box, and Wing Zone.
- Flippy Lite: You might know this machine as “Chippy,” its nickname at Chipotle, where it fries and finishes tortilla chips.
- Sippy: An automatic beverage dispenser and sealer currently being used at Jack in the Box.
- CookRight: This is a monitor system that eventually can be used with flat tops, ovens, stoves, and other kitchen appliances, but is currently being tested on Panera coffee machines, tracking metrics like volume and temperature to keep hot coffee flowing and offering insights on the average time coffee service slows down, etc.
While Miso might be the current leader in the industry, there are plenty of other robots creeping their way into the fast food world. There’s automated pizza truck company Stellar Pizza, which recently got a $16.5 million investment from Jay-Z. Then there’s the burger-building robot Creator that operates in a restaurant of the same name in California. London-based Karakuri and Nala Robotics’ Wingman are both direct competitors to Flippy, focused on automating the frying process.
All these companies emphasize that the purpose of this technology is not to take away jobs but to make certain processes safer and more efficient. It’s a nice enough sentiment, but it does feel like it’s only a matter of time before Miso manufactures Hippy the Human Robot to greet customers and take orders. The robot takeover will be here before we know it, one drive-thru at a time.