Chipotle fighting back against labor shortage by bringing on chip-making robot

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(Video: Fox Business)

Chipotle will soon be hiring an ideal new employee – one that will always show up for work on time, won’t complain about pay, and will never call in sick.

“Chippy,” a new robotic staff member, was created in partnership with Miso Robotics whose CEO Michael Bell said will help the already stressed workforce because “automation is the solution.”

“The restaurant industry had a labor gap before the pandemic,” Bell told  “Cavuto: Coast to Coast,” on Friday. “The pandemic just accelerated this big gap between the number of jobs and the available labor.”

Bell explained that creating the tortilla chip-making robot was no easy undertaking and the mechanical chef is designed to make chips in a way that mirrors the subtle differences that you would find in human-made chips.

“Chipotle, in particular, has super high culinary standards, like the method [on how] …they make their chips,” Bell said. “The very specific way they’re made is…technology now can follow and do exactly the same way that a human does.”

“It’s not as easy as it may look,” he added. “We’re happy to accept the challenge, and we’re real proud of the results.”

A Chipotle executive assured customers that they wouldn’t lose the”humanity” behind the  “culinary experience” of eating at the popular cafeteria-style Mexican fast-food restaurant.

“Everyone loves finding a chip with a little more salt or an extra hint of lime,” said Nevielle Panthaky, Vice President of Culinary, Chipotle, in a press release last month. “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.”

Many people on social media had strong opinions on the new Chipotle team member and some suggested that high entry-level wages drove them to the decision.

Denny’s has also explored using robots to help alleviate labor shortages in their operations when last November they unveiled “JANET,” a faceless server on wheels who helped deliver hot breakfast plates to hungry customers in California on a trial basis.

“We fully support our franchisees’ initiatives and encourage the testing of methods that surprise and delight our guests,” the company told Fox Business at the time. “As the testing continues, we will listen to our guest and employee feedback for future deployment consideration, but at this time there are no immediate plans for test expansion.”


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