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. FAA gives go-ahead to expanded long-range drone delivery
For more than a decade, even the most advanced long-range drone deliveries in the U.S. required visual observers, stationed on the ground along a route, to watch the sky during the delivery, but the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has now authorized drone company Zipline to make commercial deliveries beyond visual line of sight without visual observers. Zipline says this exemption from the FAA builds the foundation for the company to deliver food, medicine, consumer goods and other supplies to millions of Americans on-demand, and to do so while generating 97% fewer emissions per delivery than a gas-powered vehicle.
2. High-profile bankruptcies highlight growth pains of indoor farming industry
While some indoor farm concerns are expanding, two others that attracted strong startup money have filed for bankruptcy reorganization, highlighting a possible hiccup in an emerging high-tech industry. Observers say one major concern is the need for energy-intensive artificial light, noting that paying for that light can make profitability impossible. They suggest alternatives ranging from using natural (solar) light to moving farm operations back outdoors and leveraging tools like hoop houses to extend growing seasons.
3. Drone company looks at faster order pickup to speed deliveries
Drone delivery startup Flytrex is upgrading the method it uses to upload food orders from restaurants and other food retailers. Instead of manually uploading meals at central UAV operating locations onto the drones, employees of partnering businesses will now attach prepared items to a secure hook lowered directly down from a craft hovering above their store, so that the goods can then be immediately flown and lowered to waiting consumers. Flytrex says the innovation will cut around five minutes from transport that usually ranges from 12.5 to 15 minutes.
4. St. John’s expands mobile order to dining hall stations
St. John's University in New York has expanded Boost mobile ordering into Montgoris Dining Hall for the 2023-2024 school year, after it had only been available in the Marillac Cafeteria and Starbucks last school year. It means that students must download the Boost app and create an account in order to get food from The Kitchen omelet, Flame burger and Innovate hibachi stations in Montgoris, and some students have complained that the system has resulted in delayed, mixed up and dropped orders.
5. Restaurant tech execs wrap up annual confab examining latest innovations
FSTEC, the annual conference of foodservice information executives and technology vendors, concluded its three-day conference in Dallas on Sept. 15. The program included Innovation Forum sessions such as one sponsored by Olo that delved into making restaurants more personal with data, to general sessions that featured restaurant executives and their look at the future of technology in foodservice, from artificial intelligence to the use of new sources of information on customers. FSTEC 2024 is scheduled for Sept. 15-18 next year at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, Texas.
Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]