(NEXSTAR) – The Chipotle Mexican Grill workers so often seen chopping and preparing fresh ingredients in ad spots may soon have a non-human helper.
The company is testing a “collaborative robot” named Autocado at the Chipotle Cultivate Center in Irvine, California.
Autocado can take up to 25 pounds of unpeeled avocados at a time, the company says. The robot stands the fruit upright one at a time, slices them in half, and removes the skin and pit.
The peeled avocados drop into a bowl below, and a Chipotle worker then takes over, adding additional ingredients and mashing the guacamole.
“We are committed to exploring collaborative robotics to drive efficiencies and ease pain points for our employees,” said Curt Garner, Chief Customer and Technology Officer at Chipotle in a news release. “The intensive labor of cutting, coring, and scooping avocados could be relieved with Autocado, but we still maintain the essential culinary experience of hand mashing and hand preparing the guacamole to our exacting standards.”
Vebu, the company that developed the prototype, aims to ramp up Autocado’s processing speeds to eventually slice guacamole prep time by 50%, Chipotle says.
While Chipotle is excited about Autocado potentially “allowing Chipotle employees to focus on serving guests and providing great hospitality,” some employees may just be grateful that they won’t have to prep hundreds of avocados anymore.
According to a Chipotle Reddit forum, the avocados themselves can make all the difference.
“As long as the avocados aren’t tiny or hard it’s fine,” one Redditor said.
“It’s a loooot of work honestly,” another posted. “Very repetitive and just pray you don’t have the tiny avos.”
Others may just be happy that Autocado doesn’t do the entire job.
“I’ve seen people that seem to get a weird pleasure from it,” a third person commented. “Hopping in and out of my kitchen to smash some avocados is decent stress relief.”
Chipotle is also in the process of testing another robot named Chippy, that, you guessed it, helps make tortilla chips.
The AI kitchen assistant was designed to make imperfect chips with slightly varied salt and lime levels, as if they were made by a human.