As @jjvincent observes, integrating robots into human jobs is tougher than it looks. Four days after it was installed in a Pasadena CA burger joint, Flippy the robot has been taken out of service for an upgrade. Turns out it wasn’t fast enough to handle the demand. Does this count as Fail Fast?
Flippy’s human minders have put a positive spin on the failure, crediting the presence of the robot for an unexpected increase in demand. As Vincent wryly suggests, Flippy is primarily earning its keep as a visitor attraction.
If this is a failure at all, what kind of failure is it? Drawing on earlier work by James Reason, Phil Boxer distinguishes between errors of intention, planning and execution.
If the intention for the robot is to improve productivity and throughput at peak periods, then the designers have got more work to do. And the productivity-throughput problem may be broader than just burger flipping: making Flippy faster may simply expose a bottleneck somewhere else in the system. But if the intention for the robot is to attract customers, this is of greatest value at off-peak periods. In which case, perhaps the robot already works perfectly.
Philip Boxer, ‘Unintentional’ errors and unconscious valencies (Asymmetric Leadership, 1 May 2008)
John Donohue, Fail Fast, Fail Often, Fail Everywhere (New Yorker, 31 May 2015)
Lora Kolodny, Meet Flippy, a burger-grilling robot from Miso Robotics and CaliBurger (TechCrunch 7 Mar 2017)
Brian Heater, Flippy, the robot hamburger chef, goes to work(TechCrunch, 5 March 2018)
James Vincent, Burger-flipping robot takes four-day break immediately after landing new job (Verge, 8 March 2018)
Related post Fail Fast – Why did the chicken cross the road? (March 2018)