It’s time for another installment of The Takeout’s Robot Patrol, and this one is especially devastating to me. Regular readers of The Takeout might know that I have an intense spiritual connection to White Castle. It helped me fall in love with my husband. It catered our wedding. Hell, I even got a fancy James Beard nomination for writing about it. It’s bigger than a burger chain to me, and I’ve always found a way to forgive its trespasses. But now... oh God, it pains me so much to say this...
White Castle is now in cahoots with the robots.
You may remember Flippy the fast food robot, the terrifying AI-enabled disembodied mechanical arm with an adorable name that will most certainly never use its powerful grip to strangle a part-time assistant manager. If you don’t, here’s a video from Miso Robotics, the creators of Flippy and Public Enemy Number Two*.
Today, White Castle has announced that in pursuit of an “optimal customer and team member experience,” it will be launching a pilot partnership with Miso, giving Flippy the keys to the deep fryer in what very well could be the robot’s big break. Per the official press release: “The deployment will put autonomous frying to work for enhanced production speeds, improved labor allocation and an added layer of health and safety in the cooking process,” which is a fancy way of saying “we’re going to eliminate jobs for humans.”
Though this many seem horrible when you consider that nearly half the country is out of a job, keep in mind that White Castle says it’s only doing this because the company is “committed to delivering the best customer dining experience.” Plus, White Castle doesn’t want hurt the humans, it wants to protect them! The press release continues:
White Castle’s decision to pilot Flippy in the kitchen creates an avenue for reduced human contact with food during the cooking process – reducing potential for transmission of food pathogens. The implementation also brings intelligence to cooking, tapping into sensors, intelligent monitoring and anticipated kitchen needs to keep food temperatures consistent, that ensure optimal quality and a perfect bite for customers.
Flippy is scheduled to make its debut on the White Castle line sometime this fall somewhere around Chicago, according to Nation’s Restaurant News; the company presumably chose to not share the exact whereabouts in order to prevent me and my nunchucks from rolling up and taking care of business. As for my future relationship with White Castle: while I can get over the lifetime of heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, and all the other fun stuff it has blessed me with, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to recover from my shattered heart.