Chipotle plans to grow like crazy and eventually have 7,000 restaurants in North America. To get there, the company will have to make a whole lot of burritos so to help its employees with the volume, it’s turning to robots.
The company this week announced an investment in Hyphen, a California-based company specializing in food production robotics. Hyphen’s first product is called the Makeline and it’s an automated system that uses advanced robotics and a customized operating system to fulfill food orders. The Makeline can handle all digital orders under the counter, out of view of the customers, while staff continue to assemble in-house orders on top of the counter.
Hyphen features thousands of sensors and uses artificial intelligence to make sure orders are put together correctly. No beef when you ordered chicken and no unwieldy globs of guacamole that overpower your burrito bowl. The machine also prints customers’ names and orders directly on the packaging to further ensure there are no mixups. Hyphen also lets employees know when it’s running low on ingredients and it rotates plates so every dish looks neat and tidy when it pops out.
For Chipotle, this partnership advances its use of robotics to improve efficiency and the overall experience for customers and employees. It’s also not the first time Chipotle has turned to robots for their fast casual dining expertise. The company’s Chippy cranks out tortilla chips complete with little imperfections so they don’t feel so machine-made.
For Hyphen, the Chipotle investment will allow it to accelerate hiring plans, pour more money into R&D and scale their operations.
For all of us, it means more robot chefs, which are obviously one of the coolest things the future has to offer.