Miso Robotics, creator of a burger flipping robot named Flippy, today announced $10 million in Series B financing.
The round was led by Acacia Research Corporation.
Last year, Flippy scored a coup when it debuted with high marks a Pasadena CaliBurger, a trendy fast-food chain in tech-obsessed California. CaliBurger also preordered dozens of units for additional restaurants under a short-term exclusive contract.
"We are thrilled by the growing confidence in Miso Robotics and remain committed to fulfilling our goal of modernizing the $3 trillion global prepared foods industry," said David Zito, co-founder and CEO of Miso.
The size of the industry, coupled with rising minimum wages, has prompted a rush to create automation solutions in fast food.
Zume Pizza recently landed nearly $50 million in funding to bring robots into the pizza delivery space.
Flippy is, in effect, a lightweight industrial robotic arm with a spatula for an end effector. Right now the robot is merely flipping burgers.
But Flippy's AI allows it to learn over time, enabling it to adjust cooking duration to ensure a perfect finish every time.
Eventually, CaliBurger plans to use the robots, which cost about $60,000 per unit, to do things like toast buns and grill onions.
Those tasks, typically handled by a human at a line station, are repeatable and occur in a structured environment, making them ideal for automation.
By amortizing the relatively high up-front price tag over several years, it's easy to see why fast food chains would be interested in replacing human cooks with machines.
However you feel about the impacts of automation on society and the global economy, it's a safe bet we're going to see some big orders of robots like Flippy in the next few years as major chains begin moving toward automation.
McDonald's has already signaled its willingness to replace employees. Late last year the company announced it would install automated kiosks to replace cashiers at 2,500 restaurants.
The company's stock soared on news of the announcement.