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5 Things

5 tech things: Colleges looking to automate dining in face of enrollment drop, study finds

This and a senior community operator embracing robotic dining help are some of the tech-related developments you may have missed recently.

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.    Enrollment drop fears driving college dining automation trend, study finds

A new study commissioned by tech solutions firm CBORD found that revenue from on- and off-campus dining is a key concern as colleges and universities prepare for a dramatic drop in student enrollment. As a result, nearly half of surveyed administrators are undertaking initiatives to automate dining operations in order to create frictionless foodservice and expanded dining options for students.

Read more: Study: Higher Education Leaders Exploring New Dining Revenue Streams in Preparation for a Coming Demographic Cliff

 2.    Senior community operator looks to robots to help with dining

American Senior Communities (ASC) has enlisted the help of some unusual new team members at some of their communities, including Allisonville Meadows Assisted Living in Indiana, where you’ll find them roaming the dining room delivering food—and they’re robots! Called Servi from Bear Robotics, the robots carry trays, have safety sensors and even provide music while running food between the kitchen and dining rooms alongside their culinary team members. “Our goal in using robots is to allow our dining staff to spend more time in the dining room with residents, ensuring that their needs are met,” said Karen Powell, Vice President of Nutrition and Culinary Services at ASC.

Read more: Robots deliver meals & smiles to residents at Allisonville Meadows Assisted Living

3.    Customers worried about negative impact of dining automation, survey finds

“Connected Dining: The Robot Will Take Your Order Now,” an exclusive report from PYMNTS, found that, among the two-thirds of consumers who are not interested in robotics-powered food preparation and production, the vast majority (83%) are concerned about the impact that automation will have on the meals themselves. They believe that food prepared by automated systems or robots would be lower quality and less personalized than food prepared by humans—a greater share than said the same of any other concern.

Read more: Consumers Worry Automation Will Depersonalize the Restaurant Experience

4.    AI threatens “millions of jobs,” report warns

A new report from the McKinsey Center for Government at the McKinsey Global Institute predicts that some fields, like health care, may continue to see strong job growth even in the face of rising automation, but other industries, such as foodservice, will see a decline in jobs by 2030. “With millions of jobs potentially being eliminated by automation…the United States needs broad access to effective training programs as well as job-matching assistance that can help individuals find opportunities,” the report warns.

Read more: Jobs in food service and office support may be threatened by AI

5.    DoorDash testing AI Chatbot to speed up ordering

Food delivery firm DoorDash Inc. is looking to speed up ordering and help customers find food options with an artificial intelligence-based chatbot. The company is working on a system called DashAI that it’s testing in a limited capacity in some markets. The idea is to bring DoorDash into the AI era, allowing customers to get personalized restaurant recommendations with simple text prompts.

Read more: DoorDash Is Working on an AI Chatbot to Speed Up Food Ordering

Bonus: Sodexo works with Marshall University on high-volume composter

Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]

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