Miso Robotics Teams With Chipotle On Automated Tortilla Chip-Maker

Keerthi Vedantam

Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.

​Chipotle's latest digital innovation, Chippy, is an autonomous kitchen assistant that makes tortilla chips.
Courtesy of Chipotle

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If you’re having some chips and guacamole at a local Chipotle in Southern California later this year, there’s a chance you may be enjoying the handiwork of an unorthodox cook: an AI-enabled robot named “Chippy.”

On Wednesday, the fast-casual Mexican restaurant chain announced that it has partnered with Pasadena-based robotics startup Miso Robotics to bring Chippy to a Southern California location later this year. The “autonomous kitchen assistant,” which uses artificial intelligence to cook and season tortilla chips, is currently being tested at the chain’s Chipotle Cultivate Center innovation hub in Irvine.


Chipotle said it collaborated with Miso to tailor Chippy to its chip-making specifications—from using corn flour and sunflower oil to cook the chips, to seasoning them with salt and lime juice. While the technique remains the same, Chipotle added that the robot is trained to deploy “subtle variations in flavor” to keep things interesting and not “lose the humanity behind our culinary experience.”

"When Chipotle challenged us to see if our technology could meet the brand's high standards for culinary quality, we couldn't wait to flex our engineering and design muscles," Miso Robotics CEO Mike Bell said in a statement. "This partnership will allow us to move into new territory to help improve back-of-house functions and assist team members with their day-to-day responsibilities."

While Chipotle wants to preserve the humanity of the food, there is a big push in the food industry to automate certain processes to drive down the cost of human labor. Miso Robotics already has a partnership with burger chain White Castle where another robot, dubbed “Flippy,” is in charge of cooking french fries, onion rings and chicken tenders. The startup has also created an automated alternative to soda fountains, called “Sippy.” Miso is backed by Santa Monica-based innovation incubator Wavemaker Labs, which focuses on automating the food supply chain from agriculture to food preparation.

If all goes well with Chippy’s Southern California pilot program, Chipotle said it could eventually decided on a “national implementation strategy” for the technology.

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Cadence

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David Shultz

David Shultz is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara, California. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside and Nautilus, among other publications.

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Courtesy of Faraday Future

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Meet CropSafe, the Agtech Startup Helping Farmers Monitor Their Fields
Courtesy of CropSafe.

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Minnie Ingersoll
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Maureen Klewicki
Image courtesy of Maureen Klewicki

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