Digital Transformation Brand Strategy

Chipotle hires an AI-based machine to make tortilla chips

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By Webb Wright | Junior Reporter

March 16, 2022 | 5 min read

Chipotle Mexican Grill has unveiled ‘Chippy,’ an AI-based machine programmed to make tortilla chips. Chippy, made by Miso Robotics, represents the latest effort from the restaurant industry to enhance its customer and employee experience with emergent technologies.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has come to be increasingly common in our day-to-day lives. It curates our social media feeds, presents us with tailored online ads, drives some of our cars – and now it can even make the perfect tortilla chip. Today Chipotle announced ‘Chippy,’ a new AI-based machine with a single purpose: to craft Chipotle’s famous tortilla chips, using the brand’s trademark recipe.

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‘Chippy’ (back right) has been programmed to create Chipotle’s signature tortilla chips / BCW Global

Though Chippy has been designed to be a mass producer of tortilla chips, those chips won’t be made in a cookie-cutter, conveyor belt style. This is where the AI comes into play: rather than simply creating identical copies of the same chip, Chippy has been programmed to add the occasional zest of randomness.

“Everyone loves finding a chip with a little more salt or an extra hint of lime,” says Nevielle Panthaky, Chipotle’s vice-president of culinary. “To ensure we didn’t lose the humanity behind our culinary experience, we trained Chippy extensively to ensure the output mirrored our current product, delivering some subtle variations in flavor that our guests expect.”

Chipotle hopes that Chippy will liberate its human employees from the time-consuming and mechanical task of making and preparing tortilla chips. “Investing in technology to enhance our restaurant processes is a win-win as we know that when we help make any aspect of our teams’ jobs easier, they have more time to spend serving and supporting our guests, as well as on other tasks,” says Curt Garner, Chipotle’s chief technology officer.

Chippy was built by Miso Robotics, a company that claims it is “revolutionizing commercial foodservice through intelligent automation solutions.” Chippy isn’t the company’s first artificially intelligent kitchen worker: Miso’s resume also includes characters – each with names that sound like they could have been taken out of a Pixar screenplay – such as Flippy 2 (a fryer), CookRight (a grill), and Sippy (a beverage dispenser).

“A key component in our product development is listening to the needs of restaurants and tailoring our technology to meet those needs. With Chipotle’s high standards for culinary quality, we had to make sure our machine could maintain the proper technique for cooking and seasoning their chips to perfection,” says Michael Bell, chief executive officer of Miso Robotics. “This partnership will allow us to move into new territory to help improve back-of-house operations and assist Chipotle’s team members with their day-to-day responsibilities. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for this partnership as Chipotle continues to embrace digital innovation.”

This isn’t the first time that Chipotle has integrated AI into its workforce. Chippy will be joining Pepper – an automated chatbot found on the company’s website and app – as Chipotle’s second non-organic employee.

Chippy is currently being tested at the Chipotle Cultivate Center, which the brand describes as its ‘innovation hub’ in Irvine, California. Chipotle says that Chippy will be integrated into one of its locations in Southern California later this year.

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