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5 Things
The delivery cart roved the arena's lower concourse with fresh baked goods as the Capitals hosted the Florida Panthers for Game 3 of the First Round series, marking Tortoise’s first launch at an NHL game.

5 tech things: Robots and drones debut at sporting events

This and a Michigan county looking at high-tech delivery methods to fight food insecurity 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. Robot delivers baked goods at NHL playoff game

On May 7, Aramark Sports + Entertainment and Capital One Arena in Washington DC brought the latest in food service innovation to fans during the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a baked goods, mobile “smart store” delivery robot developed by Silicon Valley startup Tortoise. The delivery cart roved the arena's lower concourse with fresh baked goods as the Capitals hosted the Florida Panthers for Game 3 of the First Round series, marking Tortoise’s first launch at an NHL game.

Read more: Mobile delivery robot coming to Capitals playoff game this weekend

  1. Drones deliver hot dogs at college baseball game

A recent college baseball series between host Purdue University and the University of Michigan featured the first-ever drone delivery of food and beverage at a sporting event as Purdue’s concessionaire Levy and its DBK Studio technology team partnered with delivery locker firm Valqari  and drone partner Unmanned Systems Operation Group to fulfill orders of hot dogs, bottles of water and chips as a way to “pressure-test the delivery experience for higher fan volume at future events.” The pre-set foot and beverage combo meals were prepared at Folk Field about half a mile away and, with a drone delivery flight time of about 90 seconds, orders were fulfilled with delivery into secure lockers in about four minutes. The DBK Studio team says in perfect weather conditions they believe the drones can deliver up to 45 combo meals per hour.

Read more: Watch a Drone Zoom Over a Baseball Stadium to Deliver Hot Dogs

  1. County sees drones, robots as possible food insecurity solution

Washtenaw County in Michigan is looking at using flying drones and robots to deliver fresh food to food-insecure parts of the county, with seven project partners working on the initiative, including the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions, American Center for Mobility, Aerotropolis, software company Airspace Link, delivery-robot company Kiwibot, nonprofit Food Gatherers and the county. “I’m really excited to see this from beginning to end, where we take farm-to-table produce and move it to those areas that don’t have grocery stores, etc., and use robots and drones to make that happen,” County Administrator Greg Dill said. “Perhaps we’re on the cusp of making food insecurity a thing of the past in Washtenaw County.”

Read more: Flying drones and robots may help Washtenaw County end food insecurity

  1. Students arrested for damaging food delivery robot

While students at Brandeis University have jokingly referred to campus food delivery robots as being  "out for blood" (see last week's 5 Tech Things), other recent reactions to the tech innovation have been a bit more serious, including the arrest of two University of Tennessee students after a video of a campus food delivery robot being thrown to the ground was posted to social media. The students both face one count of felony vandalism over $2,500 dollars after they allegedly damaged the food delivery robot on the evening of April 29.

Elsewhere, at the University of Idaho, some students have complained about the amount of time it takes the robots to make a delivery, with one saying, "Mine took an hour and my food was cold and smushed." Meanwhile, at Bowling Green University, one of the first adopters of robot delivery not only on- but off-campus, some restaurant partners have been complaining about delayed payment from robot vendor Starship Enterprises.

Read more: UT students arrested after damaging food delivery robot

  1. Tablets improve patient experience at hospital

The Guthrie Cortland Medical Center in New York has announced the integration of MyChart Bedside tablets for patients as a personal portal to individualized care, including making meal choices with controls in place for medical dietary restrictions. “The app will give pictures of the foods,” said Director of Food Service Wanda Rawson. “If they can’t communicate, they can point, and we can assist them and help them get the meals they want.”

Read more: Improved patient experience at Guthrie Cortland Medical Center

Bonus: Meet the 2022 College Power Players

Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]

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