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. NAU Study looks at how to streamline robot delivery routes
A new study from Northern Arizona University (NAU) examined the frequency and causes of conflicts between traditional traffic like pedestrians, cyclists and skateboarders and the increasing number of food delivery robots on university campuses, and how to reduce them. They found that most serious conflicts occurred when a robot was crossing in front of or overtaking a pedestrian on a sidewalk and pointed to the need for routes that prioritize parallel travel of the robots along wide sidewalks and minimizing high-activity sidewalk crossings. Having the robots drop off their food orders at less-trafficked, well-marked sites also should help reduce interactions, they found.
2. “Ghost” Starbucks part of new Miami University dining hall
Miami University in Ohio has announced the reopening of its Bell Tower dining hall in fall 2023 that will include a “ghost” Starbucks where students can place orders online or at a kiosk or app, and the coffee is prepared the same way as at other Starbucks locations on campus. Amanda Casey, director of dining services, also noted that the updated Bell Tower won’t be a “typical” dining hall, and a meal swipe won’t be required for entry. “Orders will be placed through Grubhub kiosks or the Grubhub app, and the food will be prepared in the kitchen by our team,” Casey wrote. “Once ready, it will be picked up from a food locker.”
3. Just Walk Out comes to Six Flags theme park
The lines are about to get shorter at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey as the theme park’s operator, Six Flags Entertainment Corp., is teaming up with The Coca-Cola Co. to introduce a micro-market concept powered by Amazon’s Just Walk Out frictionless payment technology, allowing guests to purchase park essentials without waiting in line at the register. Called Quick Six, the 400-sq.-ft. space, scheduled to open May 22, features a curated selection of Coca-Cola products as well as snacks, sunscreen, ponchos and other must-haves for a day at the park. According to Six Flags, Quick Six is the first and only automated checkout-free shopping experience within a theme park.
4. Drones look to deliver pizza in Seattle, expand in North Carolina
Pagliacci Pizza in Seattle has announced that it is partnering with California-based instant logistics and delivery system Zipline for home delivery of its pizza, salads, beverages and other menu items by drone in the Seattle area starting in 2024. Meanwhile, another drone-based food delivery pilot that is already underway in North Carolina by delivery firm Flytrex is looking to expand to cover more of Wake County. The company also wants to prove it can fly drones safely with just a pilot and not a ground observer, which is required right now.
5. Sweetgreen debuts robotic restaurant
Sweetgreen has opened the company’s first robotic Infinite Kitchen restaurant in the Chicago suburb of Naperville almost two years after it acquired Spyce Kitchen, a startup building automated robotic makelines. The company says will open its second Infinite Kitchen location later this year at an existing restaurant, where it hopes to learn how to integrate and retrofit the new technology into an existing kitchen.
Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]