In July, Chipotle introduced the “Autocado”—a robot prototype guided by AI designed to pit avocados, catering to America’s immense love for guacamole and aiming to cut down on food wastage. Today, the renowned fast-food chain has unveiled its next robotic innovation: a prep station that can autonomously prepare main courses.
As revealed by Chipotle today, their latest robotic invention, developed in partnership with food automation startup Hyphen, can combine any of the available core ingredients to craft Chipotle’s signature burrito bowls and salads right beneath the work area of the human staff.
This allows the crew to concentrate on preparing more intricate dishes like burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and meals for children. You can see how this robot efficiently places food in the bowls underneath the workspace here:
Whenever orders come through Chipotle’s official website, its app, or other platforms like UberEats, the salads and burrito bowls are seamlessly integrated into the assembly line.
The assembly system ensures each dish passes under the respective ingredient containers, dispensing the exact amounts as per the order. Once this step is completed, the order is presented to the staff via a mini elevator mechanism on the robot’s left.
The staff then garnishes the order with extras like chips, salsas, and of course, guacamole, before sealing it for delivery.
Given that about 65% of Chipotle’s digital orders consist of salads and burrito bowls, this innovative “cobot” (a blend of “collaborative” and “robot”) could efficiently manage a significant portion of the kitchen workload. The company believes that this automated mechanism might also lead to enhanced order accuracy.
The topic of automation often raises concerns about its implications on human employment. Chipotle isn’t the sole player here—other chains like Wendy’s and Panera are also delving into automation strategies.
Chipotle’s Chief Customer and Technology Officer, Curt Garner, envisions the automated digital assembly line becoming the core feature of their digital kitchen in every outlet.
However, for the time being, this advanced burrito bowl robot is exclusively operating at the Chipotle Cultivate Center located in Irvine, California, possibly in the company of the earlier launched Autocado.