Last year, Chipotle unveiled Chippy, a robotic arm programmed to make tortilla chips (unevenly seasoned to preserve the experience of finding an extra flavorful one).
Chippy’s getting a friend soon.
As Food & Wine reports, Chipotle recently teamed up with product development company Vebu to create Autocado: a machine that slices, cores, and peels avocados. Because it’s meant to work with humans to accomplish a given task—rather than replace them altogether—Autocado is technically a cobot, or collaborative robot.
Basically, the employee dumps up to 25 pounds of avocados into Autocado, which makes sure each one is vertically upright before halving them and removing their peels and pits. The remaining fruit is all dropped into a giant bowl, where the employee can hand-mash it and add the rest of the guacamole ingredients.
According to Chipotle, employees typically need a good 50 minutes to produce a single batch of guacamole—and Autocado could cut that time in half. “We are committed to exploring collaborative robotics to drive efficiencies and ease pain points for our employees,” Curt Garner, Chipotle’s chief customer and technology officer, said in a press release. If Autocado can cover the drudgery, that frees up the workers to focus on the artisanal aspects of making guacamole.
It remains to be seen whether the faster, more automated process could lower the guac surcharge that Chipotle customers love to bemoan. It also remains to be seen which locations might play host to Autocado—and when. Right now, it’s still in the testing phase.