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Chippy frying tortilla chips while a human worker prepares limes for seasoning. Image credit: Chipotle

Brief: Chipotle trials kitchen automation with new tortilla chip-making robot Chippy

March 28, 2022

  • US restaurant chain Chipotle and Miso Robotics have developed a kitchen robot, named Chippy, to prepare tortilla chips.
  • The AI-powered system is able to replicate Chipotle’s tortilla chip recipe, including cooking and seasoning techniques usually performed by humans.
  • The pair are testing Chippy at the Chipotle Cultivate Center in Irvine, California; the automated assistant will debut at an actual Chipotle restaurant in Southern California later this year.

Why it matters:

Chipotle has long responded to major events and trends with technology-based solutions — from its digital makeline launched just as mobile restaurant apps became popular, to its virtual farmer’s market aimed at helping its suppliers reach customers during the height of 2020’s lockdowns. Tech-enabled drive-thrus and partnerships with other automation startups have followed.

Chippy isn’t the chain’s first foray into AI; it launched Pepper, a virtual concierge, in 2020 to walk homebound customers through the digital order and payment process step by step. Nowadays, Pepper hangs around on the Chipotle mobile app to assist customers there.

Tortilla chips are a popular add-on at Chipotle stores. Replicating their prep process with automation and robotics could help the chain keep pace with demand for both quality and quantity, even in the midst of the ongoing worker shortage in the restaurant industry.

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