PASADENA, CALIF. – The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has many in the foodservice sector looking for ways to blunt the impact of a second wave. Potential solutions lie in automation, and White Castle is prepared to give it a try with a pilot test of Robot-on-a-Rail (ROAR) technology.

ROAR is an updated version of Flippy, an autonomous robotic kitchen assistant, launched by Pasadena, Calif.-based Miso Robotics. In 2018, CaliBurger in Pasadena started using the technology which leverages artificial intelligence to automatically detect when raw burger patties are placed on the grill using 3D, thermal and regular vision.

ROAR moves Flippy to an upside-down rail that is installed under a standard kitchen hood. This placement allows Flippy to move along a line of kitchen equipment out of the path of human cooks.

Miso Robotics also has made advances in the AI-powered software that operates the robot. These breakthroughs have expanded the food categories that Flippy can cook to include chicken wings, onion rings, popcorn shrimp, sweet potato waffle fries, corn dogs and other fried foods.

“White Castle is an industry innovator, and we take a great amount of pride in our history – never forgetting about the future ahead,” said Lisa Ingram, fourth-generation family leader and chief executive officer 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,” she said. “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.”

Miso Robotics plans to deploy Flippy ROAR later this fall. The company will test speeds in production, taste, quality and operational optimization with backend point-of-sale integration. Flippy ROAR's design also will be tested to improve employee and food preparation, for wider location integration, according to Miso Robotics.

“Miso Robotics couldn’t be more excited to bring Flippy ROAR into White Castle,” said Buck Jordan, CEO and co-founder of Miso Robotics. “Artificial intelligence and robotics bring a very real opportunity to continuously enhance the cooking process and optimize taste for restaurants. White Castle’s brand is iconic, navigating new challenges to bring their menu to more customers, prepared in a healthier environment by staff in better working conditions that adhere to social distancing needs is something only Miso Robotics can do. We look forward to being a part of White Castle's next 100 years.”