The deep frying robot wars are , err, heating up. Yesterday, Lab2Fab President Shawn Lange (who is speaking at our Pizza Automation Event next week!), posted a video on Linkedin showing off his company’s new FRYBOT. (Substack doesn’t embed Linkedin content, so you’ll have to go to Lange’s post.)(Sorry!)
The video shows an articulating arm moving an empty basket under a french fry dispenser to collect frozen fries, and then moving those fries into the deep fryer. It also shows a basket of fries lifting up from the oil when done, and the articulating arm dumping them into a holding area.
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We don’t have many details other than the robot debuted two weeks ago at the Middleby Innovation Kitchen in Dallas, Texas. We emailed Lange a bunch of questions around features, throughput, availability and price and will update this post when we hear back.
The immediate thought that springs to mind is that FRYBOT will be going head-to-head with Miso Robotics’ Flippy for deep frying dominance. Miso just announced Flippy 2 last week, which saw a number of enhancements and a reduced footprint. Flippy is already in use at White Castle and is being piloted by Buffalo Wild Wings.
This isn’t the first time Lab2Fab/Middleby has taken on other startups. Last year the company debuted the Pizza Bot 5000 pizza assembly robot, which while a completely different form factor, did much the same work as Picnic’s and XRobotics’ pizza assemblers.
Obviously, pizza assembling and fry cooking are huge opportunities. Because of labor issues and the dangers of working around hot vats of oil, fying was so much more of priority for restaurants that Miso pivoted Flippy away from grilling to focus on frying.
We’ll need more details from Lab2Fab to see how FRYBOT fits into the restaurant automation market, but the competition will be hot.
UPDATE: We heard back from Shawn Lange, President of Lab2Fab with some more details about FRYBOT (bolded questions were ours):
How much throughput per hour? Depends upon the cook time and how many VATs…
Does it do more than fries? Today it can handle a lot of different frozen products as well as fresh wings.
How much does it cost? When will it be available? We are moving into test with key clients this quarter and next and plan to begin rolling out in the second half of next year. Cost depends upon configuration, but we’re targeting approximately $100K as a Cap Ex buy. We may offer a RaaS model as well.