Sizzling chips, robotic munchies: Chipotle’s automation revolution in 5 bites.

Key Points:

  • Chipotle has been using robots to automate its operations since 2022, starting with the creation of autonomous kitchen assistants named Chippy to cook tortilla chips.
  • In early 2023, Chipotle tested a robot named Autocado to assist in making guacamole.
  • In October 2023, the company announced testing of an automated digital makeline with Hyphen to create burritos, tacos, and quesadillas.
  • Chipotle announced on December 13 that it is investing $50 million in Greenfield Robotics to bring robotics to its farms, with robots that can cut weeds and perform other tasks to reduce reliance on harmful chemicals.

Chipotle Mexican Grill, an American chain of fast-casual restaurants, has been leveraging robots to automate its operations. The company started in 2022 by working with Miso Robotics to create autonomous kitchen assistants named Chippy, whose task was to cook tortilla chips. The testing took place at Chipotle’s innovation hub in California, where worker and customer feedback were collected before rolling out the technology to a larger scale.

In early 2023, Chipotle introduced another robot named Autocado to assist in making guacamole. This robot cuts, cores, and peels avocados before they are hand-mashed to create guacamole. Chipotle partnered with Vebu to create this device.

Later, in October 2023, Chipotle announced that it is testing an automated digital makeline in collaboration with Hyphen. This makeline aims to create burritos, tacos, and quesadillas. It is designed to handle digital orders to help workers with repetitive tasks and increase capacity during peak periods.

Most recently, on December 13, Chipotle revealed its plans to bring robotics to its farms. The company has invested $50 million in Greenfield Robotics, an agritech startup, to develop robots that can work on its farms. These robots will initially focus on cutting weeds between crop rows, reducing the need for harmful chemicals. Chipotle also plans to add additional capabilities to the robots in the future, such as soil testing, crop planting, and microspraying.

Overall, Chipotle’s use of robots in its operations showcases the increasing role of automation in the food service industry. By automating tasks like cooking tortilla chips, making guacamole, and creating menu items, Chipotle can improve efficiency, reduce labor costs, and potentially enhance food quality and consistency.