From drive-thru to kitchens to automated kiosks, major restaurant chains are testing artificial intelligence and automation to streamline operations with one goal: eliminating unreliable low-wage and low-skilled workers.
Everyone's favorite Chipotle Mexican Grill is the latest example of technology pouring into its kitchen. The company announced it was testing "Autocado," an avocado-processing robot that cuts, cores, and peels avocados in half the time.
"Chipotle currently has individuals dedicated to cutting, coring, and scooping avocados. On average, it takes approximately 50 minutes to make a batch of guacamole," Chipotle wrote in a press release. Autocado, developed in collaboration with Vebu Labs, a California-based robotics startup, can prep a batch of avocados in as little as 25 minutes.
Across North America and Europe this year, the company estimates it'll use 4.5 million cases of avocados, equivalent to more than 100 million pounds of fruit. The manpower used to make guacamole is enormous, and it appears Autocado is a move by the company to streamline costs.
"We are committed to exploring collaborative robotics to drive efficiencies and ease pain points for our employees," said Curt Garner, Chief Customer and Technology Officer at Chipotle.
Garner continued, "The intensive labor of cutting, coring, and scooping avocados could be relieved with Autocado, but we still maintain the essential culinary experience of hand mashing and hand preparing the guacamole to our exacting standards."
In addition to Autocado, Chipotle is testing Chippy, an autonomous tortilla chip maker created by Miso Robotics. The goals are simple: leverage automation technology to streamline kitchen operations to save costs.
The end goal of every major restaurant chain is to incorporate vast amounts of automation to eliminate human workers. Robots can't get sick, nor can they form unions and strike.