In this special edition of its 5 Things series, Food Management highlights five recent technology-related developments affecting the foodservice world.
Here’s your list for today:
1. Uber Eats partners with Serve Robotics to expand robot delivery
Autonomous sidewalk delivery company Serve Robotics is partnering with food delivery and ride sharing platform Uber Technologies to deploy its robots on Uber Eats in multiple markets across the United States, with up to 2,000 Serve Robots to be fielded. "This partnership is a major step towards mass commercialization of robotics for autonomous delivery, and it is a testament to the success of our partnership,” said Serve Co-founder/CEO Dr. Ali Kashani. "We are excited to continue our work with Uber to bring this innovative technology to more cities across the country."
2. Chipotle founder plans plant-based, robot-powered restaurant concept
Chipotle founder and ex-CEO Steve Ells is plotting a return to the fast-food scene with a plant-based, robot-powered chain whose restaurants could operate with as few as three employees. Ells has been pitching investors since at least last year on a startup that “fundamentally rethinks labor, technology, real estate and menu” and uses “automation with a human touch,” according to draft investor materials obtained by The New York Post.
3. Have QR code menus worn out their welcome?
QR codes, a dining innovation that once looked like the future, has worn out its welcome with many restaurateurs, customers and servers who say it takes the joy out of dining. Today, even though many restaurants still have “scan the code” cards tucked into napkin holders or pasted onto the corners of tables, customers seem to be ignoring them. And many restaurants have returned to using only paper menus.
Read more: The QR-Code Menu Is Being Shown the Door
4. Cutting edge of vending tech being showcased across Japan
The cutting edge of vending machines technology is being displayed across Japan through a series of startups that show the growing potential of unattended retail. Examples include “AI cafe robot,” which provides coffee that matches a buyer’s tastes and preferences; a soft drink vending machine that absorbs CO2 from the intake air to keep drinks cool or warm; a fresh salad vending machine that uses AI to automatically reduce prices based on demand projections, expiration dates and other information to prevent products from going unsold; and a mobile vending machine that serves as an unmanned mobile shop selling foods and drinks.
5. Drones make food deliveries in densely populated Chinese city
Meituan, China’s most popular food delivery platform, has been regularly operating drone delivery routes for the last year and a half in the southern city of Shenzhen, a densely packed urban environment that challenges delivery logistics. To make the service work in this environment, Meituan has set up pickup kiosks close to residential or office buildings where the drones drop off orders rather than delivering directly to customer residences. The process may be less convenient for customers, but it allows every drone to fly a predetermined route, from one launchpad to one kiosk, making the task of navigating urban areas much easier.
Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]