- Chipotle is testing Chippy, a robot that makes tortilla chips.
- Chippy makes inconsistent chips so they feel more like they were made by a person.
- Miso Robotics, which made White Castle’s Flippy, is also behind Chippy.
Chipotle just announced Chippy, an AI kitchen assistant that will help make its tortilla chips in restaurants where the autonomous robot gets deployed.
Despite its technological advancements, Chipotle didn’t make Chippy absolutely perfect — even though it says it could have. Chipotle specifically programmed Chippy to have some inconsistency in results on purpose to mimic the technique of the humans who currently produce the chain’s chips.
“Everyone loves finding a chip with a little more salt or an extra hint of lime,” Chipotle VP of Culinary Nevielle Panthaky said in a statement. “To ensure we didn’t lose the humanity behind our culinary experience, we trained Chippy extensively to ensure the output mirrored our current product, delivering some subtle variations in flavor that our guests expect.”
The robot is currently being tested at Chipotle’s test kitchen in Irvine, California, with plans to start working in a California restaurant later this year. The chain will continue to test and hear worker and customer feedback to decide on how to implement Chippy nationwide.
Chipotle partnered with Miso Robotics to create Chippy. The company has also worked with other major brands, like White Castle and Buffalo Wild Wings. Flippy is the company’s burger-flipping, french fry-making robot that first went on the market for $30,000 in 2020.
The original model could place baskets in the fryer, shake baskets in oil, and monitor for appropriate cooking time to make chicken tenders and tater tots, while the updated Flippy 2 was smaller and faster, and able to handle more specialized items like onion rings.
White Castle said it saw a positive impact in the initial Flippy test and ordered an expansion of 100 robots. Buffalo Wild Wings has tested Flippy Wings, which was specially designed for frying chicken wings.
Chains like Chipotle, White Castle, and Buffalo Wild Wings have embraced testing robots as a labor shortage in the service industry made workers harder to hire and retain. Technical innovations like Chippy and Flippy can take some tasks off the plates of busy workers, and potentially enable restaurants to function with fewer workers.
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