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:
- Uber Eats to offer robot food delivery in Miami
Residents in Miami's Dadeland district can now have their Uber Eats food orders delivered by robots, the result of a new partnership between Uber Eats and self-driving sidewalk bot maker Cartken. Cartken’s machines are already used for neighborhood food and grocery deliveries, campus meal deliveries and curbside pickups in various locations across the United States, but the tie-up with Uber Eats marks the company’s first formal partnership with a major on-demand delivery app beyond college campuses.
- A look inside the first fully automated McDonald’s
McDonald’s has unveiled its first concept restaurant without human employees out the front of the restaurant. It features automated ordering kiosks and robotic delivery with no cashiers, just automated machines that prepare orders and bring them to customers on a conveyor as soon as it's ready. Food blogger @foodiemunster visited the new concept restaurant and shared his experience on TikTok (video in story link below).
- Major chain embrace tech to combat labor shortfall
McDonald's and Subway recently unveiled new contactless technology for takeout and drive-thru orders, joining a fray of restaurant companies betting big on innovation that involves faster service and fewer humans amid an ongoing labor shortage that has the restaurant industry still short 400,000 workers compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to Labor Dept. data. Meanwhile, Taco Bell, Chipotle and Domino's are using AI-powered voice bots to take orders, while fast-casual chains like Sweetgreen are adding drive-thru lanes designated for faster pickup of digital orders.
Read more: Your next Taco Bell orders could be taken with artificial intelligence as fast food chains from McDonald's to Chipotle test automation to combat the brutal labor shortage still plaguing the industry
- Walmart launches drone delivery in Dallas
Walmart is expanding its drone delivery service into Texas as part of its plan to reach four million additional households across six states in 2022. The delivery option is available to customers who live within a mile of 11 participating Dallas-area Walmart stores. For a $3.99 fee, drones can deliver more than 10,000 eligible Walmart items up to 10 pounds, including fragile items like eggs, in as little 30 minutes. There are no minimum orders.
- Robot abuse draws online backlash
A construction worker who was filmed kicking a food delivery robot has faced online backlash from viewers who claimed they 'felt sorry' for the machine. The video, posted on TikTok, shows four robots getting stuck in the snowy conditions along their journey before getting kicked by a construction worker wearing an orange jumpsuit. Some people shared their upset at the video saying they felt bad for the robots while others raised their concerns over a 'villain back story' of the machines starting to 'plot against us'.
Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]