From burger-flipping robo-chefs to drone wheelbarrows, machines are already taking our jobs

We have heard ad nauseum that robots are coming for our jobs, and that’s already true in factories around the world. But more of us are set to see robots at work, whether replacing human colleagues or simply helping to carry the load. Here are three robots already helping flip burgers, slice wood and schlep fruit.

From burger-flipping robo-chefs to drone wheelbarrows, machines are already taking our jobs

Miso Robotic’s Flippy

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Your next burger could be flipped by Flippy. This 5ft 6in machine has 3D, thermal and camera-based vision, the company told us, and runs Miso Robotics’ own AI platform, which can be updated with new skills as needed. Flippy detects when a burger patty is placed on the grill, flipping as needed, and can switch between spatulas (one for raw meat, one for cooked), clean its tools, and scrape down the grill. It costs $60,000 and has a 20% annual fee for the AI and maintenance.

“As the patties cook, Miso AI displays the cooking time on a screen, which also alerts kitchen staff when to place cheese on top or when to dress a burger,” said David Zito, co-founder and CEO of Miso Robotics – in other words, fast-food workers still have a job even if Flippy is behind the grill. Flippy will start work at 50 locations of CaliBurger, an American chain – though it is currently suspended.

MIT’s AutoSaw

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Want to get into DIY but not keen on all those spinning blades? Let AutoSaw help. Born in MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), the AutoSaw system lets users choose furniture from a template, personalise the colour, size and other details, and then the robot saws slices and dices the pieces. We still assemble the bits, but avid Ikea fans should have no trouble with a bit of assembly.

“If you’re building a deck, you have to cut large sections of lumber to length, and that’s often done on site,” CSAIL postdoc Jeffrey Lipton wrote in an MIT report. “Every time you put a hand near a blade, you’re at risk. To avoid that, we’ve largely automated the process using a chop-saw and jigsaw.” So far, the AutoSaw is limited to a few set templates and requires a fair amount of setup, but this could be the future of customised furniture.

Augean Robotics’ Burro

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Fruit pickers have a tough gig, but the Burro wants to help. This drone wheelbarrow follows pickers, hauling their load back for them. There are two versions: a two-wheel drive Burro can carry 300 pounds and the four-wheel drive manages 450 pounds. They can cover ten to 15 miles depending on terrain, claims CEO Charlie Andersen. Prototypes are already running on Augean Robotics’ test farm, with customer trials set for this season.

The initial cost will be $9,000 for the two-wheel drive and $10,000 for the four-wheel drive. “Over time with scale we will be able to bring this cost down, but in applications like hand picking where people spend 20-30% of their day walking up and down rows rather than picking, paybacks are under two years at those price points,” Andersen said.

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