Chipotle Mexican Grill is working on a way to split the work of making guacamole between humans and machines.
The Newport Beach-based chain is partnering with an El Segundo-based company called Vebu Labs to develop a cobot, or collaborative robot, that can slice in half, core and peel avocados before a staff member takes over to mash them and prepare the guac.
The prototype robot is called Autocado, according to a news release, and it is being tested at Chipotle’s test kitchen in Irvine, according to a news release.
The hope is that Autocado will cut the roughly 50 minutes it takes to make guacamole in half, the news release said, by processing 25 pounds of avocados at a time and collecting the waste.
Chipotle has a history of testing cobots. Last year it tested a machine named Chippy that could fry and season tortilla chips. The goal, chief restaurant officer Scott Boatwright said at the time, was to farm out some of the more repetitive kitchen duties to machines and leave humans with the more satisfying ones.
Boatwright also said that Chipotle is devoted to hand-mashed guacamole.
In 2019, the chain made a commercial with Oscar-winning filmmaker Errol Morris that featured a demonstration on how to mash guac by the manager of a Chipotle restaurant in Temecula.