Chipotle tests automation for burrito bowls and salads

A completed burrito bowl assembled by Chipotle and Hyphen’s automation know-how.

Source: Chipotle Mexican Grill

Chipotle Mexican Grill is testing whether or not automation could make prospects’ burrito bowls and salads.

It’s the second time the burrito chain has publicly introduced testing automation at its innovation middle. Chippy, Chipotle’s first foray into automation, is a robotic that makes tortilla chips. The firm started testing Chippy at a California restaurant a yr in the past after it handed the primary spherical of testing.

Restaurants starting from Sweetgreen to Starbucks have been investing in automation to chop down on labor prices and enhance order consistency and velocity. But robotics and synthetic intelligence software program may be expensive, so it should doubtless be years earlier than the know-how pays off for eating places.

Still, many operators have large hopes for automation’s future within the restaurant business. Sweetgreen opened its first automated location in May and CEO Jonathan Neman already expects the entire chain’s future eating places to be automated in 5 years.

The Chipotle check introduced Tuesday is a part of a collaboration with Hyphen, a startup that is making an attempt to automate restaurant kitchens. Last yr, Chipotle invested an undisclosed quantity in Hyphen, previously generally known as Ono Food. The startup has a valuation of $104 million, in response to PitchBook.

All Chipotle eating places have two make strains to assemble orders: one within the entrance for diners who order in individual and one other within the kitchen for digital orders. Roughly two-thirds of all Chipotle digital orders are both burrito bowls or salads, in response to Chipotle.

The Hyphen robotic will make burrito bowls and salads for digital orders solely. The know-how strikes the bowls beneath the digital make line to dispense the right components. Simultaneously, an worker can assemble digital orders for different objects, corresponding to tacos, quesadillas and burritos, on the digital make line. When the robotic is finished making an order, it sends the bowl or salad again as much as the floor so staff can correctly package deal the order.

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