In addition to the new tests, Chipotle said it’s autonomous kitchen assistant introduced earlier this year—Chippy—has moved to its next stage of testing. Announced in March, Chippy, from Miso Robotics, the creators of “Flippy,” makes tortilla chips. It uses AI to replicate Chipotle’s recipe—corn masa flour, water, and sunflower oil—to cook chips, season with salt, and finish with a hint of lime juice.
Chipotle recently relocated Chippy from its Cultivate Center to official installation in-restaurant. It will start cooking chips for guests next month in a Fountain Valley, California, restaurant. Chipotle said it will listen, test, and learn from employees and guests before deciding on whether to roll Chippy nationwide.
“Flippy 2,” which takes over the fry station in an effort to free up workers for other tasks, is moving to triple-digit White Castle locations. Like Chippy, the robot was designed to improve worker efficiency and divert labor to more guest-facing tasks. Miso Robotics said Flippy 2 performs more than twice as many food preparation tasks compared to its prior version, including basket filling, emptying, and returning.
Once the product is placed in the bin, AI vision identifies the food, picks it up, cooks in the correct fry basket, and places in into a hot-holding area.
Eliminating the transfer lessens human-to-food contact and decreases potential oil dripping and burns caused by lifting and moving baskets, the company added. It’s a closed-loop system where Flippy 2 operates on its own without human intervention in the middle of the process. The end result being throughput 30 percent higher (roughly 60 baskets per hour), according to White Castle.
The overall aim for Chipotle has become crystal in recent months. In April, the brand created what it labeled “Cultivate Next,” a venture intended to make early stage investments into “strategically aligned companies.” The goal being to support seed to Series B stage operations that could accelerate the brand’s goals, such as tech and innovation. It started at $50 million, financed solely by Chipotle.
The first investment arrived in July, with Chipotle announcing it was funneling funds into Hyphen, a foodservice platform designed to help “restaurant owners, operators, and budding chefs move their business forward by automating kitchen operations.” Also, Chipotle invested in Meati Foods, a plant-based protein company that makes product from mushroom root. It also began testing radio-frequency identification (RFID) to trace and track ingredients in restaurants.