Chipotle Mexican Grill has announced its partnership with Hyphen to test an automated digital makeline.\r\n\r\nHyphen is a foodservice platform designed to help restaurant owners, operators, and budding chefs move their business forward by automating kitchen operations.\r\n\r\nBowls and salads are created by an automated system that moves the entr\u00e9es through the bottom makeline where ingredients for the order are dispensed automatically.\r\n\r\nIn tandem, a Chipotle team member can leverage the top makeline to create burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and kid's meals for the same digital order.\r\n\r\nChipotle invested in Hyphen as part of Cultivate Next, the company's $50m (\u00a341.04m) venture fund that intends to make early-stage investments into strategically aligned companies that further its mission to Cultivate a Better World and help accelerate its aggressive growth plans.\r\n\r\nChipotle is seeking opportunities that will elevate the human experience for its teams as well as increase access and convenience for its guests. Investments may include innovations in farming and supply chain, advanced robotics, alternative proteins, and more.\r\n\r\nApproximately 65% of all Chipotle digital orders are bowls or salads, so the cobotic digital makeline has the potential to free up more time for employees to service the front makeline and deliver \u201cexceptional\u201d hospitality, while simultaneously increasing capacity for digital orders during peak periods.\r\n\r\nAccording to Chipotle, the new digital makeline could also help enhance digital order accuracy, improving the guest experience.\r\n\r\nFollowing the new partnership, digital orders would be placed via the Chipotle app, Chipotle.com, or third-party platforms.\r\n\r\nIf the order included a bowl or salad, those entr\u00e9es would be routed to Hyphen's automated system. The bowl traverses along the bottom makeline and positions itself under the specified ingredient container. The intelligent dispensers then portion each ingredient into the bowl. If the order included burritos, tacos, quesadillas, or kid's meals, a Chipotle team member would use the top of the same makeline to create those entr\u00e9es.\r\n\r\nThe completed bowl or salad would be raised from the bottom makeline and revealed at the end of the makeline through an opening in the countertop. A Chipotle team member would place a lid on the entr\u00e9e and add any final items such as chips, side salsas, or guacamole to the order.\r\n\r\nFinally, completed orders would be placed in their designated pick-up area: in-restaurant pickup shelves, walk-up window, or Chipotlane.\r\n\r\nThrough Cultivate Next, Chipotle also invested in Vebu, a product development company that works with food industry leaders to co-create intelligent automation and technology solutions. Earlier this year, Chipotle and Vebu unveiled the Autocado, an avocado processing cobotic prototype that cuts, cores, and peels avocados before they are hand mashed to create the restaurant's famous guacamole.\r\n\r\nCurt Garner, chief customer and technology officer at Chipotle, said: "Chipotle's new digital makeline built by Hyphen embodies our commitment to leveraging robotics to unlock the human potential of our workforce, ensuring an elevated dining experience for our guests. Our goal is to have the automated digital makeline be the centrepiece of all our restaurants' digital kitchens."