The robots have come for White Castle

Illustration for article titled The robots have come for White Castle
Photo: Robert Alexander (Getty Images)

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.

*Here’s number one.


Allison Robicelli is a writer, recipe czar, former professional chef, author of four (quite good) books, and The People's Hot Pocket Princess. Tweet me for recipe help: @Robicellis.


I found an AI article writer and fed your info into it Allison. It wrote something just for you

Robot Chefs Are A Threat To Allison Robicelli

A new product from Moley Robotics takes the future a step closer when the company unveiled a robot king at its annual conference in San Francisco, California, this week. Sources: 1

The device consists of a specially designed kitchen with a laptop, stove, crockery and sink and is able to reproduce the movements of human cooks to create meals from scratch. Moley invited TIME to test the robot and test its food when it introduced its “chef” at the company’s annual conference in San Francisco, California, this week. A 3D camera records the movements of the hands, feet, arms, legs, feet and sarcasm of the human cook. The robot learns these movements as they are performed by human cooks before uploading them to a computer and reprogramming them. Sources: 1

This is where the concept of automation in food preparation comes in: providing good service to customers, remaining relevant in today’s fast-moving world, and building a flawless image in a market where robotic kitchens are embraced by tech-savvy restaurant professionals. It’s not far away from a robot kitchen in our kitchens, where robot chefs prepare delicious food on demand. In the past, chefs have failed to live up to expectations, which ultimately makes us unhappy with our food experiences. Sources: 4

Today, restaurants use modern technology to save on high labour costs and save their customers expensive but low-quality food. Sources: 4

Until now, robots have not yet reached the sophistication with which they can experiment with different ingredients and create novel dishes on their own. But with the current unstoppable hype, robotic chefs will eventually prevail, just as fast food has taken the lead over gourmet restaurants for obvious reasons of creativity. Sources: 4

Perhaps in the future, robotic chefs will experiment and produce new, exciting and delicious dishes. Promoting automation of food preparation in kitchens will certainly reduce labor costs and allow chefs to experiment with new flavors. Machine - Prepared foods prepared by machine learning and other advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence have the potential to minimize food waste by optimizing recipes, available ingredients, and time. Customers no longer have to wait for hours for a meal in a fast food restaurant, but an hour or two while the chef experiments with a new flavor. Sources: 2, 4

Futuristic kitchens are still difficult to sell to most customers due to high labour costs and lack of access to high-quality ingredients. Sources: 2

But before the kitchen is made available to the general public, the company plans to build a digital library of 2,000 recipes; and one blog. The company is currently working to build a system that can teach the actions of human chefs and reach a critical mass of dishes to appeal to customers with the right appetite for endangered foods. By using machine learning and the ability to mimic human movements, kitchen manufacturers hope to take on the challenge of making cooking more human - less so through assisted learning. Sources: 1, 2

Moley is ambitious to bring the robotic chefs into mass production and sell them as early as 2021, according to its website.Sources: 1

The purpose: Built-in kitchens with oven, dishwasher, sink, and children cost between 10,000 and 15,500 pesos each, and people can learn how to prepare a variety of dishes by watching their robots at work. Anderson compared the robots to cookbooks and YouTube tutorials for professional chefs: “I think they will help people build brands. Sources: 1

Moley Robotics, founded by computer scientist Mark Oleynik, has teamed up with London-based Shadow Robot Company, which is developing a kitchen with hands. Moley Robotics, which he founded in 2014, is the one he believes will pay back the $5 million it has spent so far on its development. Sources: 1, 3

In the next decade, Srinavasa says, mass-market cooking robots are likely to have a much greater impact on the food industry than their human counterparts. They are considered to replace traditional cooking bloggers as an alternative to human cooks. Sources: 3

Moreover, they must quickly hand over very expensive toys that can only copy human movements to really intelligent machines that can take household tasks to a new level. As Srinavasa puts it: “If you try to automate the production of a car efficiently, you cannot build anything that looks like a mechanic. In the future, this compelling story will make it all the more important to develop robots that can perform and set up these tasks with minimal human intervention. Sources: 2, 3

But even then, it will have to make a convincing case that investing in an expensive robot will pay off, and that will be hard to convince. Sources: 2

Launched later in 2019, Moley offers an idea of the sophistication that is to come, leaving no doubt that Moley will be the nucleus of kitchens in the future - and that it will only be a matter of time before it closes its doors and continues the steps of Rethink Robotics. Sources: 0, 2