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It’s been three months since the University of North Florida (UNF) introduced its new self-service kiosks to the on-campus dining experience, and since then, the reactions have been mixed.

5 tech things: University’s self-order kiosks cut order time but extend wait times for order fulfillment

This and the tech-driven ordering/checkout revolution in Major League ballpark concessions 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.    Self-order kiosks cut order time, extend wait times at UNF

It’s been three months since the University of North Florida (UNF) introduced its new self-service kiosks to the on-campus dining experience, and since then, the reactions have been mixed. It seems that people are mostly positive about the convenience they provide, but there have been some other concerns following the implementation of this fresh new twist on ordering meals. “There are positives and negatives to the new system,” said one dining employee. “[The self-checkout system] does affect wait times, with many customers having to wait longer for their food, but it also takes a load off of the front register.”

Read more: Checking in on self-checkout

2.    High-tech ordering booming in Major League ballparks

With the return of baseball season, major teams are upgrading their in-arena ordering and payments. Take, for instance, New York’s Yankee Stadium, which this year is tapping Uber Eats’ technology to not only enable game goers to make food purchases from their seats but also to have items delivered right to them in select sections of the ballpark, eliminating having to leave the game action for long periods of time to track down the vendor they are looking for and wait in lengthy lines. As such, tech upgrades of this kind allow teams to improve the game-going experience, keeping fans coming back more often.

Read more: MLB Says Three Strikes and You’re Outdated to Concessions Payments

3.    Robots return to UC Berkeley with expanded duties beyond food delivery

Kiwibot robots are returning to the UC Berkeley campus after a hiatus during the COVID pandemic, but in addition to food delivery, the fleet of autonomous robots on wheels will begin offering interactive experiences as the campus will be a place of field research for Kiwibot, where it will test its latest technology to receive feedback from students about their interactions with the robots. Students will be able to interact with the robots by scheduling campus tours with them to visit different bear statues and can earn prizes, such as free food and drinks, by engaging with the robots in these activities.

Read more: ‘Exciting’: Food delivery robots return to campus

4.    Drones to deliver food to Arizona neighborhood

Food delivery via drone has now arrived at the Val Vista Lakes neighborhood at the edge of Gilbert and Mesa in Arizona as Los Angeles-based Flyby Robotics launched a pilot program for drone food delivery for residents living within a one-mile radius of Nekter Juice Bar, MAD Greens and Tokyo Joe's in the neighborhood. During the pilot, customers can order smoothies from Nekter Juice Bar, salad from MAD Greens, sushi from Tokyo Joe’s and crunchy shiitake mushroom chips from Popadelics for a $3 fee with average delivery times under four minutes, according to FlyBy.

Read more: Los Angeles-based Flyby Robotics launching food delivery via drone in East Valley

5.    Virtual restaurants “flooding the marketplace”

From Big Hot Dog Energy to Pimp My Pasta, there’s a growing wave of restaurants in the U.S. that are luring patrons with clickbait names and glossy imagery, but you can’t dine in them, because in the physical world they don’t exist. In New York City, a sample of 1,656 Uber Eats listings showed that more than 1 in 5 appear to be virtual, a trend repeated across each of the 12 cities NBC News examined, according to an analysis of restaurant listings. Data shows there are now tens of thousands of virtual restaurants, flooding the marketplace and prompting at least one delivery app company to make plans to rein in some restaurants.

Read more: ‘I got catfished by a sandwich’: Virtual kitchens boom on delivery apps

Bonus: Grab and go sales expected to flourish with automated outlets opening at Major League ballparks

Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]

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