The Flippy robotic army is growing through an expanded deal with quick-serve burger giant White Castle. Miso, the company that developed Flippy, announced the burger chain would implement the robotic arms in 100 standalone locations across the country.
White Castle initially partnered with Miso in July of 2020, expanding that single-location pilot to 10 locations in fall of 2020 and then upgrading to Flippy 2 in fall of 2021. The second iteration of the device mounts the robotic arm on a wall to be more efficient and space saving as a robot-on-a-rail (ROAR).
The latest update shows those tests (mostly done in late-night hours) were successful. The next phase expands the footprint of White Castle’s automation efforts and Flippy will be “taking over the work of an entire fry station,” and not just at night, according to a company representative.
White Castle COO Jeff Carper said the “new hire” will help fuel expansion efforts.
“Our partnership with Miso continues to lead the way on what’s next for back-of-house restaurant operations looking to empower team members with technology to better satisfy customers,” said Carper. “Having Flippy 2 be a new hire at 100 of our White Castle locations keeps us on a path to achieve big goals at White Castle.”
He stopped short of saying it would help alleviate staffing challenges, something Miso highlights in its investment offerings. It’s a widespread difficulty that has slowed development and limited operating hours across the quick-serve restaurant (QSR) industry. Carper said Flippy would help redeploy workers off the less-than-enticing fry line to “focus on creating memorable moments for customers,” i.e., not standing in front of a stinky fryer.
Miso CEO Mike Bell said the deal represents the first major robotics rollout for the company. The first Flippy device went online in a restaurant in 2017, and has been tweaked ever since—expanding from a burger-flipping bot on wheels to handling flipping and frying fries with AI sensors guiding the efforts.
“We could not be more grateful for the confidence White Castle has shown in us as we enter into the next phase of our partnership,” said Mike Bell, CEO of Miso Robotics. “White Castle was the first large brand to embrace our technology and we are thrilled that our Flippy pilot made such a positive impact on their operations that they want to integrate 100 more. We can’t wait to continue on this journey with such an outstanding partner.”
The rollout will take place in the months and years to come—neither Miso or White Castle gave a solid timeline. That will likely be determined market-by-market with staffing, restaurant updates and layouts as guiding metrics.
The expansion comes on the tails of another similar pilot with Inspire Brands, the parent company of Buffalo Wild Wings, which is testing a Flippy Wings built on the core Flippy robotic arm model. The new iteration features an “AutoBin” system that kitchen staff can fill with food for the robotic arm to grab and cook as necessary.
According to data from Crunchbase, Miso has raised just short of $80 million to fuel growth of its new automation methods. Much of the funding has come from equity crowdfunding. The company is currently accepting another round of crowdfunding in its Series E round that seeks to raise $40 million on the Wax Invest crowdfunding platform.