Walmart, Bentonville, Ark., is testing a fry cook robot named Flippy at its in-store deli counters. The frying robot, called the autonomous robotic kitchen assistant, automates the frying process for many of the items prepared in Walmart’s deli, including chicken, mozzarella sticks and potato wedges.
How it works is, an associate places frozen product on the in rack. The kitchen assistant uses visual recognition technology to identify what food is in the baskets and places them in the cooking oil. The kitchen assistant then agitates the basket to ensure product is cooked evenly and consistently every time. Once the food is done cooking, the kitchen assistant moves the basket to the drip rack, where an associate tests the food’s internal temperature to double check it’s cooked perfectly. After a few minutes on the drip rack, an associate seasons the food, readies it for display and places it in the hot case.
The robotic kitchen assistant is designed to do the mundane, repetitive tasks to allow associates to focus on other tasks like assisting customers and prepping other foods.
In addition to saving associates’ time, this technology is designed to cook items the same way each time, thus meeting food safety requirements and health department regulations. It also minimizes waste by identifying the product and cooking it the right amount of time and at the correct temperature. It also improves freshness and ensures a structured cooking plan.