Chipotle's tortilla-making robot will soon help out in a restaurant you can visit. The chain has unveiled a slew of technology updates that include moving the Miso Robotics-made Chippy robot to a real restaurant. The machine will start cooking tortilla chips in a Fountain Valley, California location in October. Feedback from customers and workers will help the company decide on a national rollout.
Artificial intelligence will influence some human cooks, too. Chipotle is piloting a demand-based cooking system that uses AI to tell staff what and when to cook based on forecasts for how much they'll need. In theory, this lightens the load for employees while making sure there's enough freshly-cooked tacos and burritos when you show up for dinner. The pilot is underway at eight Orange County, California restaurants.
There's also an upgrade for tech you can use. An opt-in program in the Chipotle App lets you know when your order's ready, reminds you to scan your rewards code and can even warn if you show up at the wrong pick-up location. The experiment is in progress at 73 restaurants in Cleveland, Ohio.
The Chippy and kitchen AI projects may be well-timed. While there are concerns that AI and robotics may automate people out of jobs at restaurants like Chipotle and McDonald's, the deployments come as retail continues to struggle with staff shortages. This theoretically frees workers to concentrate on serving customers, rather than handling drudgery behind the scenes.