In 2018, Miso Robotics launched its first AI-enhanced robotic arm, Flippy. Flippy originally designed to help cook burgers on the flat-top, has evolved into three AI options—Flippy 2 and Flippy 2 Wings, which manage high-volume fry stations; CookRight, an AI-powered grill; and Sippy, a beverage dispenser. The AI sous-chefs are meant to increase cooking speed, uniformity, efficiency, and safety and, with ever increasing labor shortages, might ultimately be seen as a viable solution to an imminent problem. Companies like Buffalo Wild Wings and White Castle, among others, are testing these AI helpers in their kitchens, and Miso Robotics is eyeing the general public market with its new TV commercial. While AI gadgets in the kitchen are not new, AI-enhanced technology like Miso's Flippy may offer a glimpse into the future of restaurant operations. Although AI robots will likely never fully replace humans in the kitchen—although AI-inspired gastronomy may be in our future—by allowing AI-enhanced robots to takeover monotonous and repetitive jobs such as frying, on-site workers can focus more of their attention on cooking and the front of the house.
Beyond the kitchen, AI is impacting the food industry. From recipes and food storage, to food delivery and menu optimization, AI is slowly transforming how we interact with food. AI can help restaurants improve their business models and increase profits; however, implementation of AI technology can be costly and potentially out of reach to smaller companies. Others could benefit from the research and development that franchises and larger players invest in. Nevertheless, companies may opt for trade secret protection over their AI, keeping the inventions and developments out of the public domain. As AI in the food industry becomes more prevalent, we will continue to monitor these developments to understand the impact on the industry.