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  • Writer's pictureBrian Trotter

The Taco Truck goes high-tech

When you enjoy that taco for lunch today, it just might be a newly patented invention that made your tortilla.

When you think of intellectual property, I bet you don't think of your local taco truck. But perhaps you should. There are over 4,000 patents with the name "taco" in the title. And one Austin company just patented an invention to produce the perfect tortilla.

The well-made tortilla is a thing of beauty. Slightly crispy, and with a thick-but-not-too-thick consistency. For you Austin locals, the corn tortillas at El Primo on S. 1st are some of my favorites. And while tortillas may have started out as hand-pressed masa, they've gone high-tech. Premier Innovations in Austin has patented a machine to make the perfect tortilla -- US Patent 10928186, "System and method for thickness measurement in tortilla production".

Really, you say? A high-tech tortilla?

Yes. Consider this...

  • Their machine uses a laser sensor to test the thickness of the raw masa as it moves down the production line by measuring the vertical displacement.

  • A processor monitors the probability density function of the vertical displacement to continually adjust the machine apparatus for a perfect thickness every time.

  • The vertical displacement data is passed through a Fast Fourier Transform (!) algorithm to allow them to remove low-frequency noise from vibrations in the conveyor apparatus or other outside influences.

I'm sure next will be the AI-enabled machine learning tortilla machine. Wait, they've already done that too: "an artificial neural network that is trained on the continuous sequence of vertical displacement measurements".

So enjoy that taco today -- after last week, we certainly all need a good taco. And thank a talented inventor that made it possible.

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