A robot walks into White Castle...

The old-school hamburger joint is taking a step into the 21st century with help from this burger bot.
Written by Greg Nichols, Contributing Writer

Did you know White Castle was the country's first fast-food hamburger chain, getting its start 1921? The quick-serve restaurant has kept pretty true to its roots, which makes it an unlikely partner for a company that makes robots.

Nevertheless, Miso Robotics, which makes Flippy the burger-flipping robot, has announced a planned pilot with White Castle to test the adoption of AI and robotics in legacy fast food.

It's propitious time to be selling automation in the restaurant industry. Coronavirus shutdowns and in-restaurant restrictions are seemingly making the public more receptive to automation in general. The restaurant industry has been particularly hard-hit during the pandemic, and that's forcing a hard look at ROI arguments put forth by automation firms. 

But Flippy's big selling point right now is that it can reduce human contact with food during the cooking process. It also potentially will include quality control since the system relies on sensors, intelligent monitoring, and anticipated kitchen needs to keep food temperatures consistent. White Castle will be bringing the newest version of Flippy, Robot-on-a-Rail (ROAR), into some of its kitchens for testing and future integration. Among the metrics that will be measured are production speeds, labor allocation, and health and safety benefits.

"White Castle is an industry innovator, and we take a great amount of pride in our history – never forgetting about the future ahead," says Lisa Ingram, 4th generation family leader and CEO of White Castle. "With 100 years of quick-service success, the time has never been more perfect to envision what the next century of White Castle and the restaurant industry looks like. Miso Robotics understood where we could improve and stay true to White Castle's brand of taste, innovation, and best-in-class dining. A great customer and employee experience is in our DNA, and we are thrilled to bring the future into our kitchen with solutions that will transform the industry and make the White Castle experience all that it can be for generations to come."

The Flippy ROAR will deploy later this fall.

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