Burger-flipping robot gets $10M 'bonus'

Miso Robotics, creator of the burger-flipping robot that will soon debut at 50 Caliburger locations, has raised $10 million in a Series B funding round led by Acacia Research Corp. The hefty infusion of cash brings the funding total to $13.1 million, money that Miso Robitics will use to bring "Flippy" to Caliburger, according to a press release.

Notably, the latest investment round included funding from Levy Restaurants, a hospitality company that runs restaurants in high-traffic venues that range from Barclays Center to Walt Disney World Resort. 

Some industry-watchers speculate that robotic technology might ending up replacing restaurant staff, but Miso Robotics stressed in in the press release that Flippy's purpose is simply to take some of the load off kitchen staff. 

"People really like the idea of a kitchen assistant that can really come in and be that third hand for the overworked staff," Miso Robotics CEO Dave Zito said. "They're all reporting high turnover rate and increasing customer demand for fresh ingredients prepared quickly. Trying to keep that at accessible prices is hard."

Flippy features intelligent cooking AI software and provides a camera view of the flat top. Miso Robotics said that Flippy's current restaurant application could have limits in scalability due to finite grill and restaurant seating space. But the company said the robot could assist kitchen staff with to-go orders in busier locations. 

With its latest round of funding, Miso joins a number of well-funded robotics-based food ventures, including Momentum Machines. Backed by $18.4 million in funding, Momentum developed a robot in 2012 that was capable of grilling, assembling and wrapping as many as 400 burgers in an hour. The company has not yet rolled out its robots to the public, however.

The culinary robot space is fast becoming populated with offerings such as Cafe X, a robotic coffee shop that serves coffee from specialty roasters. That company plans to open its third location soon at an undisclosed site, the news release said.

Topics: Burger/Steak/BBQ, Business Strategy and Profitability, Food & Beverage, Systems / Technology

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