Chipotle Testing A Robot To Help With Guacamole Prep

Making guacamole, one of its most beloved items, may just get faster and easier for Chipotle. The popular Mexican fast food chain announced in a press release that it has teamed up with Vebu, a company that develops technology products for the food industry, and together they have come up with a special machine that will process avocados much quicker and safer than any human could.

The robotic device, aptly called the Autocado, cuts and peels avocados and removes their pits. The machine, also known as a collaborative robot, can hold up to 25 pounds of avocados at one time and is designed to work with support from a Chipotle employee. Once the employee loads a case of avocados into the device, it will process the avocados one by one, removing the skins and cores and slicing the fruit in half. The avocados are collected into a bowl, which is located in a drawer at the bottom of the machine. The employee can then take the prepared avocados and finish making guacamole by hand.

The Autocado will dramatically reduce prep time

It reportedly takes around 50 minutes to make a batch of guacamole at Chipotle, and that time could be reduced by as much as half with the help of the Autocado. And considering that Chipotle is expected to go through about 100 million pounds of avocados this year across all of its operations, this device could lead to impressive time savings as well as potentially reduced labor costs and food waste. Right now, the Autocado is only in the prototype stage and is being tested at the Chipotle Cultivate Center in Irvine, California. The company hopes to start testing the device in stores in late 2023. 

Chipotle views the Autocado as a win for both the company and its employees. "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 statement. Making guacamole is a labor-intensive process, and this device will spare employees the grueling work of extracting the fruit from the avocados and allow them to focus on preparing the guacamole itself. All the avocados will still be mashed by hand and mixed with the other ingredients.