Flippy the robot sparks job loss fears after learning to fry chicken wings

Fans of fried chicken watch out: your next Nando's could be cooked by a robot, if the techies have their way.

Miso Robotics has just announced Flippy 2, the latest version of its burger-flipping robot which was previously trialled at American fast food chain White Castle.

While the original Flippy could only really flip burger patties, its latest iteration can manage whole fry baskets for chips, onion rings, and chicken nuggets thanks to artificial intelligence.

Using AI machine vision, the robot identifies the type of food, picks it up, and drops it into a frying basket with no human intervention.

The company that makes it say it reduces the amount of contact between people and food, improving hygiene as well as safety by helping workers avoid burns from hot oil.

It could help restaurants deal with unprecedented staff shortages since the pandemic.

"Flippy One did a good job of offsetting labour and really taking over a bunch of work in the fry station. Flippy 2 takes it significantly further," Mike Bell, CEO of Miso Robotics, told Ottomate.

"If you think of the fry station, going from right to left—where you take frozen products from a frozen dispenser on the right going all the way left, where it's dumped onto a holding table, Flippy takes everything from dispensing into the baskets, cooking it very precisely to dumping the fries, and then returning the basket to its original position. So it takes a huge chunk of labour off the table."

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While kitchen robots like Flippy understandably make people fear for their jobs, they could become good colleagues in short-staffed restaurants.

An estimated 75% of bars and restaurants in the UK are currently increasing pay in a bid to attract new staff, as one in six hospitality jobs are currently vacant.

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