To combat labor shortage and cut down the 50-minute prep time in creating their well-loved guacamole in half, fast-casual chain Chipotle developed a collaborative robot named Autocado.
What the Autocado does is to help simplify and cut the time it takes to prepare guacamole — a task that Chipotle employees rank as one of their least favorite as it is both tiresome and dangerous. The Autocado will hold up to 25 pounds of avocados at a time and vertically orient these so it can cut them in half while removing their pits and skin.
As simple as that sounds, the Autocado collaborative robot immensely helps in saving time and labor costs. Additionally, the Autocado is estimated to help Chipotle save millions of dollars spent on avocados annually as the collaborative robot can reduce food waste.
However, Chipotle employees will still need to manually help in preparing the guacamole by way of loading up the Autocado with avocados and collecting the sliced fruits, and ultimately hand mashing and mixing the rest of the guacamole ingredients. The big benefit remains and that is employees are free from picking, slicing, and pitting avocados themselves.
Given the positive results lately, Chipotle is aiming to test out the Autocado in more of their restaurants within the year. Currently, the Autocado is still in its prototype phase but is said to be “very close” to design for manufacture.
Eventually, the Autocado will be equipped with machine learning capabilities and sensors that will help it in evaluating the quality of avocados to ensure customers only get the best.
Chipotle was able to kill two birds with one stone through the Autocado collaborative robot they developed with Vebu Labs. Seeing the potential in robotics and how it can improve workflow, Chipotle has announced that its $50 million venture arm, Cultivate Next, will be investing in Vebu.
We’re curious to see what other robots will soon be employed in Chipotle and if other restaurant chains will follow suit. After all, having robots work alongside service industry workers is starting to become a norm and we see it happening in many other industries.