Automation in fast food restaurants has been on the upswing, to say the least. Sweetgreen purchased a robot-powered restaurant company, White Castle employs Flippy the robot, and Chipotle’s got a tortilla-chip-making buddy named Chippy. Well, Chippy might get a sibling in the kitchen soon, because Chipotle is now testing a new machine called Autocado designed to help save time in prepping its popular guacamole.
Autocado isn’t like Flippy, per se—the machine doesn’t do smart work like the actual cooking of food. It’s more of an industrial device that takes care of one key element of guacamole prep, which is the peeling and pitting of avocados.
First a Chipotle employee loads the machine with a case of avocados and selects the proper size setting. The machine is capable of handling 25 pounds of fruit at once; it takes between 50-70 avocados for one batch of guacamole.
Inside the Autocado, the avocados are vertically oriented and moved to the processing portion where they’re sliced in half and skinned, and the scraps are tossed. The machine spits the naked avocado halves into a stainless steel bowl, and voila, they’re ready for an employee to mash them up and turn them into the final product.
Autocado would potentially save up to 50% of the time it currently takes to make Chipotle’s guacamole (about 50 minutes, according to the press release), ideally freeing up an employee from this time-consuming task. Normally I’m hesitant of machines potentially taking jobs away from humans, but saving a line cook’s physical energy and narrowing down their potential for injury is, in my mind, valuable.
I say this as a former cook who took prep shifts often. Any assistance in completing a tedious task involving some sort of blade, such as a deli slicer or knife work, would have been a godsend back then.
The Autocado machine is still brand new, so it hasn’t been rolled out to any stores yet. It’s being tested at Chipotle’s Cultivate Center, where the chain tests out new tech and recipes. (Insider has a great tour of the place.)
There’s no timeline for when Autocado might be deployed at Chipotle locations nationwide; I’m guessing it’s going to be more than a while before we hear of it in the wild. Even Chippy, Chipotle’s tortilla-chip-making bot, only lives in one location as of now, in Fountain Valley, California. Psst, bigwigs at Chipotle: If Autocado saves that much time and labor, does this mean the guacamole might become cheaper?