This robot will soon make your guacamole at Chipotle

Chipotle has partnered with Vebu to develop Autocado, which cuts, cores, and peels avocados.
Sejal Sharma


Guacamole at Chipotle will soon be made by a robot.

​​The Mexican restaurant chain is partnering with Vebu, an Automation, Robotics, and Intelligence company, to develop a prototype called Autocado that cuts, cores, and peels avocados before they are hand mashed to create the restaurant's signature guacamole, said Chipotle in a press release.

Guacamole is an avocado-based Mexican dip used with chips, salads, sandwiches, etc.

Autocado is currently being tested at the Chipotle Cultivate Center in Irvine, California. In addition to the avocado robot, Chipotle is also testing CHIPPY, an autonomous kitchen assistant which makes tortilla chips.

"We are committed to exploring collaborative robotics to drive efficiencies and ease pain points for our employees," said Curt Garner, Chief Customer and Technology Officer at Chipotle. "The intensive labor of cutting, coring, and scooping avocados could be relieved with Autocado, but we still maintain the essential culinary experience of hand mashing and hand preparing the guacamole to our exacting standards."

This is how Autocado works:

  • A team member loads Autocado with a full case of ripe avocados and selects the size setting. Autocado can hold up to 25 lbs. of avocados at once.
  • One at a time, avocados are vertically oriented, then transferred to the processing device.
  • The avocados are sliced in half. Their cores and skin are automatically removed, and the waste is discarded.
  • The fruit is safely collected in a stainless-steel bowl in the bottom of the device.
  • A team member removes the bowl of avocado fruit and moves it to the counter where they add additional ingredients and hand mash the avocados to make Chipotle's signature guacamole.

Cutting down time

It currently takes 50 minutes for the Chipotle staff to make a batch of guacamole. Autocado is expected to bring that time down by 50%. Vebu, while developing Autocado, worked closely with Chipotle's managers to analyze how they prepare their signature dish. 

The restaurant chain estimates that it uses 4.5 million cases of avocados annually in its restaurants across the US, Canada, and Europe. Autocado will help in increasing the avocado fruit yield through precision processing, which could lead to millions of dollars in annual food cost savings if the cobot is successfully developed and deployed widely, said the press release.

"Our purpose as a robotic company is to leverage automation technology to give workers more flexibility in their day-to-day work," said Buck Jordan, CEO of Vebu. "Autocado has the potential to work alongside Chipotle crew members to create the same, delicious guacamole that Chipotle fans love but more efficiently than ever before."

Food industry embraces and braces for AI

Chipotle's decision comes amid shortage in labor in the restaurant industry. There's also a gradual shift towards AI. Recently, Wendy's introduced AI chatbots in its drive-thrus in a bid to modernize and automate the fast-food experience.

Rival Mcdonalds too opened an AI-powered drive-thru system, but it failed to make a mark in the market.

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