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Chipotle Could Soon Make This Big Change To Its Tortilla Chip Prep

But don't worry, they'll still be as limey and salty as ever.
FACT CHECKED BY Mura Dominko

Chipotle is a leader in fast-food tech integration. From its massively successful app and use of AI-powered chatbots to its curation of digital experiences for customers, the fast-casual is at the cutting edge of quick-service technology. Now, the chain wants to kick things up a notch with a new innovation: a tortilla chip-making robot.

The brand has teamed up with Miso Robotics to develop "Chippy," an autonomous kitchen assistant designed to season and cook its famous tortilla chips. Chipotle's culinary and tech teams worked with Miso Robotics to fine-tune Chippy, "training" the AI-robot to prepare tortilla chips the Chipotle way.

 

As fans of the brand know (thanks to a run of recipe reveals during the pandemic) Chipotle's tortilla chips are fried fresh and seasoned twice with an exact mixture of salt and lime juice. Using the same recipe, Chippy faithfully reproduces the beloved menu item. It's even programmed to operate within a margin of error to mimic certain flukes of human preparation.

"Everyone loves finding a chip with a little more salt or an extra hint of lime," said 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."

Testing of Chippy is still ongoing at the Chipotle Cultivate Center in Irvine, Calif., but plans are in place for a trial run at a Southern California location at some point before the year's end. If Chippy clears that hurdle, it could be integrated system-wide at each of Chipotle's roughly 3,000 locations.

Chippy isn't Chipotle's first AI assistant. The brand launched "Pepper," an AI-powered, in-app chatbot, in 2020. Nor is the tortilla-making robot the first autonomous kitchen assistant from Miso Robotics. The firm also designed White Castle's burger-flipping robot, "Flippy," as well as "Flippy Wings" for Buffalo Wild Wings.

Owen Duff
Owen Duff is a freelance journalist based in Vermont, home of Ben & Jerry’s. Read more