Chipotle's Biggest TikTok Hacks Might Be Over

If Chipotle installs robots to prep burrito bowls, some TikTok hacks might not work anymore.

Large restaurant chains have been steadily welcoming robots into their kitchens for years. White Castle has a robot fry cook (which we witnessed firsthand), Sweetgreen has integrated itself with an automated food company, and Starbucks might soon outfit its stores with high-tech latte dispensers. Chipotle is already playing around with multiple robotic kitchen service units, including one that fries tortilla chips and one that preps avocados. Now, Chipotle has partnered with a tech startup called Hyphen to produce a new robot that could not only increase productivity, but also stymie some of those pesky TikTok hacks that keep messing with employees.

Chipotle’s new kitchen robot, explained

Insider reports that this robot, called The Makeline, builds burrito bowls. It can churn out 120 to 180 bowls per hour, which is about six times the capacity of a human worker. The hope is to use the robot for digital orders, which would lighten the load on employees during crunch time while producing a consistent product.

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That consistency is a double-edged sword, however. The bowls would be prepped with more precise amounts of every ingredient, preventing the irksome takeout problem of receiving a noticeably lightweight meal. But this precision is also likely to stump customers who try to game the system to get more food, or the same amount of food for less money.

If these machines are ever deployed to assist with in-person service, no amount of wily charm or social engineering would convince The Makeline to dole out extra food. When everything is provably consistent, customers don't have the room to complain about light bowls as often, which gives the company a tighter rein on customer service.

There are lots of reasons restaurant chains are searching for the perfect food service robot. At their best, these robots can move as quick as humans or faster, requiring no breaks (and no wages). They can also potentially prevent product waste by being maximally efficient, and they help fill in gaps in short-staffed kitchens. While I can't exactly complain about getting exactly what I paid for at Chipotle, I'm also relieved to know that the restaurant industry is on a hiring spree right now, so the robots won't be the only ones handling my orders. 

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