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. Wichita State latest campus with food delivery robots
Wichita State University Dining is rolling out robotic food delivery on campus through a partnership with Starship Technologies. Starting Aug. 14, Starship’s fleet of autonomous, on-demand robots are available to deliver food from seven campus restaurants for a $2.49 fee to any campus location.
2. Drive-thrus leading restaurant industry’s tech-driven push for quicker service
The push for more efficient drive-thrus at some of the country's biggest chains reflects massive consumer demand for quicker service, so more restaurants are testing automation tools like artificial intelligence and the use of conveyor belts to deliver orders taken on apps. They are also testing more curbside delivery, walk-up pickup models and restaurant concepts that eliminate dining in.
3. Campus dining automation a way to keep up revenues in face of declining student numbers, study suggests
According to a study released by CBORD, more than half of institutions plan on turning to automation in the next two years, driven in part by the looming enrollment cliff. With fewer students on campus, opportunities for dining revenue decline, according to Lorena Harris, CBORD’s chief marketing officer. “The dining rooms aren’t getting as much traffic; students are going off campus and living off campus more,” she said. “The kiosks and food trucks and everything else come into play when schools are trying to keep that revenue...they want to make more services available to keep that money flowing.”
4. Robot waiters lead to bigger tips for human waiters, restaurant CEO says
“Robot waiters are proving to be beneficial for one Florida restaurant chain whose CEO claims they’re leading to larger tips for human servers,” Fox Business reports. The chain, called Sergio’s Restaurant, is optimistic about keeping the robots long term. As president and CEO Carlos Gazitua explains, “With robotics, what we've been able to do is basically run the food back and forth so our wait staff has been able to spend a little bit more time with our guests, getting to four to five tables.”
5. Penn State students develop app to promote dining hall meet-ups
Dining halls have traditionally been places to foster campus community building, and a group of students who competed in Penn State’s HackPSU have developed a tech-based tool to ease the process of making new friends across the dining table. Their Meet & Eat app matches students with peers planning to eat at the same dining hall at the same time and who share similar interests. The students hope to have it in the App Store and available at Penn State this year with possible expansion to other college campuses further out.
Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]