PC: TechCrunch

Chipotle Mexican Grill is getting a little bit closer to making its tortilla chips by robot.

The California-based restaurant chain announced on Tuesday that it will test “Chippy,” an autonomous kitchen assistant manufactured by Miso Robotics, in a Fountain Valley location next month. At its innovation centre in Irvine, California, Chipotle has already put Chippy’s capacity to produce and season its tortilla chips with salt and lime to the test.

The firm is using its “stage-gate approach,” like it does with the rest of its new technology and menu items, to test and learn from employees and consumers before deciding how to roll out the technology nationally. Chipotle employees currently fry and season the chips, which can take some time.

Robotics and automation are being tested by restaurants and businesses to speed up operations and free up staff from mundane jobs. Starbucks has introduced new methods for more quickly preparing drip coffee, serving food, and creating cold coffee drinks. In other locations, Panera Bread, McDonald’s, White Castle, and Buffalo Wild Wings are all experimenting with automated drive-thru ordering to shorten wait times.

Chipotle also said that it is testing a new kitchen management system that uses machine learning to forecast demand for its products in order to improve freshness and reduce food waste, in addition to the test at the Chippy location. In eight restaurants in Orange County, the PreciTaste technology is being tested.

Additionally, the firm announced that 73 of its restaurants in Cleveland are testing location-based technologies to enhance their mobile apps. The programme is designed to assist customers and delivery drivers in scanning loyalty QR codes and determining when items are available as well as if they are in the incorrect place. Retailers like Harris Teeter, Albertsons, and Vineyard Vines employ the technology developed by Flybuy by Radius Networks.