Market Mad House

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche

Grocery Wars

The Robotic Burger Flipper is here

Predictions that technological unemployment is coming to the world of fast food are coming true. The first robotic fry cook for burger joints is here.

Flippy the robot kitchen assistant is capable of frying and flipping burgers on a grill, CNBC reported. Flippy is pretty simple it’s nothing but robot arm that employs machine learning and computer vision to identify when burgers need to be flipped and when they are done.

“Today our software allows robots to work at a grill, doing some of the nasty and dangerous work that people don’t want to do all day,” David Zito; the CEO of Flippy’s creator Miso Robotics, said. “But these systems can be adapted so that robots can work, say, standing in front of a fryer or chopping onions. These are all areas of high turnover, especially for quick-service restaurants.”

Meet Flippy the Future of Cooking

Flippy might be the beginning of a revolution because it was built with off the shelf technology, Zito revealed. Miso does not build the robots it develops and markets the control software.


Miso Robotics has been able to raise $3.1 million in venture capital. The capital will be used to build robots that will be deployed in Los Angeles area CalBurger restaurants next year. Miso joins several companies that are rolling out kitchen robots.

Early adopters of Flippy are likely to be 24-hour kitchens; such as those in truck stops, and diners like Denny’s (NYSE: DENN). Next will come military mess halls, hospitals and restaurants in areas with high costs of living.  Any restaurant in an area with labor shortages and operators of kitchens in remote locations will definitely be interested.

Supermarket operators including Kroger (NYSE: KR) and Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) will definitely be interested in Flippy. Many of them are adding kitchens and hot food in an attempt to make up for a falling demand for groceries. Grocers will definitely be interested in using robots to reduce kitchen labor costs.

Since Kroger and Amazon are already heavy users of warehouse robots they are likely to beat a path straight to Miso’s door. A strong possibility is that Kroger or Amazon might buy Miso in order to get their hands on its’ software. Amazon owns the robotics company Kiva.

Technological Unemployment coming to a Kitchen near You

Flippy sounds cute but many workers will not find it so endearing. Yum Brands (NYSE: YUM) CEO Greg Creed expects robots to replace many fast workers within 10 years. Yum operates Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken or KFC, AFW and Taco Bell.

“I think it’s gonna happen,” Creed told CNBC. “We’ll see a dramatic change in how machines run things.”

One factor driving such automation will be Wall Street. McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) prices shot up by $38 during week of June 19 a share after it announced plans to replace cashiers with touch screen kiosks.

Flippy’s debut is likely to heat up the debate about technological unemployment and calls for basic income. Expect to see more calls to tax robots; and ban “job-killing tech,” after Flippy arrives at your local supermarket, diner or fast food joint.