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:
- Grubhub/Starship robot delivery alliance to expand to more campuses
Food ordering/delivery firm Grubhub and autonomous delivery firm Starship Technologies have announced that they will expand their robot food delivery program to more college campuses across the United States later this year after already operating at the University of Kentucky, Wayne State University, Southern Methodist University, Fairfield University and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. "Robot delivery solves the unique challenges of accessing hard-to-reach areas that come from operating on a college campus," says Adam Herbert, senior director of campus partnerships at Grubhub. "With Starship's robots, students can enjoy a fun, new way to order their favorite meals right to their door—whether that be the library, their dorm, academic hall or another campus building. Offering this type of delivery further improves the Grubhub dining experience as we continue to provide innovative solutions for students and our campus partners."
- Forbes analysis: robots have cost advantage over human fast food workers
The recently introduced Wingman fast food robot from Nala Robotics that reportedly can fry chicken wings, French fries, and other foods, season them, and plate them all autonomously is "significantly cheaper" than a human worker despite its $3,000/month rental cost and even if the worker's wage is only $7/hour, according to this Forbes analysis. The Wingman joins hamburger-making robots like Flippy from Miso Robotics and other kitchen robots that are automating food processing, cooking and presentation, particularly in fast food settings. The result over time could be fast food restaurants that need far fewer human workers—if any at all, the analysis suggests.
- Two Just Walk Out stores debut at NBA/NHL arena in Los Angeles
Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles is debuting two new grab and go locations powered by Amazon’s frictionless Just Walk Out technology at NHL and NBA preseason games this October, allowing fans to take what they want without having to stop to check out. The Just Walk Out technology-enabled locations—Bud Light Seltzer Market and Michelob Ultra Market—will sell beer, wine, seltzers, ready-to-drink cocktails, soft drinks, coffee, water and other select food and beverage items, with guests purchasing alcohol required to show their ID to a store attendant for age verification. “Today, ‘world-class’ means creating opportunities for fans to completely control their experience," says CEO Andy Lansing of Crypto.com Arena concessionaire Levy. "That is exactly the reason these checkout-free experiences are so powerful. They take lines out of the equation and give fans the ability to access food and beverage on their own terms.”
- Amazon puts brakes on robot delivery pilot
Amazon is off-roading its nearly four-year test of an autonomous delivery vehicle, dubbed Amazon Scout. The Seattle-based e-tail giant launched a field test of the electric-powered Amazon Scout in early 2019 in which six of the self-guided, six-wheeled vehicles made small-package deliveries in a neighborhood in Washington’s Snohomish County, with the test later expanded to Irvine, Calif.; Franklin, Tenn.; and Atlanta. However, Amazon spokeswoman Alisa Carroll has confirmed published reports that the company was halting the Amazon Scout pilot because of uneven results.
- UCLA’s “unofficial campus food blogger” has over 3,000 Instagram followers
Using social media platforms has become a standard way for onsite dining programs to promote their offerings, but there's a difference between "official" in-house messages and those generated organically and voluntarily by customers. An example of the latter is Katie Lee, a third-year Asian studies student who seems to have become the "unofficial campus food blogger" at UCLA, with over 3,000 followers of her @ucla.swipes Instagram food blog. Recognizing the value of Lee's posts about the various dining options available in what is the top-ranked campus dining program on niche.com's most recent Best Campus Food listing, the Instagram accounts of UCLA and UCLA Housing have been resharing them online.
Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]