Soon, a robot may be preparing your Chipotle Guacamole.
Meet "Autocado," a Chipotle robotic assistant that will perform more difficult tasks in the creation of the chain's Guacamole. This includes cutting, coring, and peeling the avocados. Chipotle has joined the ranks of other fast-food chains that are turning to robotic technology in order to cut costs. The robot prototype, which looks more like an old silver refrigerator than humanoid, is a Chipotle's first attempt at this.
Chipotle's (CMG) decision to automate the back-of house task is made at a time when the US restaurant industry is experiencing a labor shortage. In May, there were 1.2 million job openings for US restaurants and accommodations. Before the pandemic, there were only 1 million job openings per year in the restaurant industry. Chipotle's (CMG) 'collaborative robotic' won't eliminate jobs. Instead, workers will work with this robot to accelerate guacamole manufacturing.
To create the creamy consistency of guacamole, an employee will mash avocados along with other ingredients like salt, lime juice, and jalapenos.
Curt Garner said that it was important for Chipotle to maintain its experience and prepare the guacamole according to their exact standards. The device was specifically designed for Chipotle to ease identified pain points among restaurant employees.
According to the company, preparing a batch guacamole can take just under an hour. The Autocado could cut that time in half and save the fast-casual Mexican food chain $50,000,000 if it is successful.
These changes are indicative of a trend towards automating tasks within restaurants. White Castle, a hamburger chain, has implemented a robot named Flippy 2 which takes over its entire fry station. Restaurants are now introducing artificial-intelligence drive throughs in all parts of the country.
An employee can load up to 25 pounds avocados in the Autocado. The avocado is then cut in half and cores and peels removed. Yes, it is a fruit.
Chipotle reports that it purchases more than 100 million pounds avocados every year.
Autocado, however, is a proprietary product that is designed specifically for Chipotle and its needs.
Chipotle, in order to design its new menu, partnered with Vebu Labs - a robotics start-up based in California – who analyzed the preparation process of various Chipotle restaurant and identified the time-consuming tasks that employees had to perform.
Chipotle invested in Vebu, as part of its $50 million venture CultivateNext.
The company has said that dishwashing robots could be next. Chipotle has already tested 'Chippy', a robotic assistant using artificial intelligence that makes tortilla chips for dipping in Autocado guacamole.