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Chipotle Testing New Automated Robot, ‘Autocado’

Avocado processing robot to cut prep time in half

Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG) is testing its latest automation project at its Cultivate Center in Irvine, an avocado processing collaborative robot called Autocado.

The prototype, which can hold up to 25 pounds of avocados, was created in partnership with automated tech developer Vebu to cut, core and peel the fruit for the restaurant chain’s guacamole. Chipotle has also invested in the El Segundo-based firm as a part of the $50 million venture fund dubbed Cultivate Next.

“Our purpose as a robotic company is to leverage automation technology to give workers more flexibility in their day-to-day work,” Vebu Chief Executive Buck Jordan said in a statement.

The current prep time for making guacamole by hand is approximately 50 minutes and Vebu aims to cut that time by 50% with Autocado. Another goal is for the robot to “use machine learning and sensor fusion to evaluate the quality of the avocados and quantify waste reduction.”

“We are committed to exploring collaborative robotics to drive efficiencies and ease pain points for our employees,” Chipotle’s Chief Customer and Technology Officer Curt Garner said.

This is Newport Beach-based Chipotle’s second automation in testing along with Chippy, the tortilla chip maker that was first announced last year.

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