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From mall food courts to urban downtown locations, a limited number of restaurants are prototyping autonomous delivery robots
The future of delivery is here, and Chick-fil-A is testing a new solution to get your favorite menu items rolled out to you…literally.
At a limited number of restaurants and for a limited time, we are testing delivery with the newest members of our fleet, autonomous delivery robots. At their full potential, these robots can enhance restaurant operations, cut delivery costs and provide great-tasting food with the consistency our guests expect. With the help of several autonomous delivery partners, we are researching and developing technology for a variety of environments, meeting the needs of our restaurants and guests.
A growing delivery business
For Luke Steigmeyer, the Operator of Chick-fil-A 6th and Congress in Austin, Texas, this new venture, in partnership with Refraction AI, an Austin-based leader in autonomous delivery, has helped to introduce Chick-fil-A™ Delivery to his digitally savvy downtown customers.
“Two-thirds of my business is delivery, and I have built a team that is hungry for the next wave of digital advancements as our business continues to grow,” says Steigmeyer. “The autonomous vehicles have been instrumental in growing awareness of delivery at my restaurant, allowing us to reach even more customers in the area.”
At his restaurant, placing an order for autonomous delivery works similarly to Chick-fil-A Delivery, providing guests with great-tasting food wherever hunger strikes. If a guest is ordering Chick-fil-A Delivery in the app or online within one mile of Chick-fil-A 6th and Congress, their meal could be delivered by an autonomous vehicle. Once the meal is freshly and thoughtfully prepared, a Team Member loads up the vehicle and sends it on its way.
Technology equipped for the journey
Autonomous delivery robots are equipped with artificial intelligence systems and advanced depth-perception cameras, which allow them to navigate traffic patterns, pedestrians and even maneuver through car and bike lanes, busy malls and on sidewalks. The robots are speedy with the vehicles in Austin travelling up to 15 miles per hour. During the test period, “safety chasers” follow these vehicles to ensure a smooth journey, answer any questions guests may have and learn how to improve the experience.
Insulated to keep food at the ideal temperature, these robots have the ability to navigate themselves to the designated drop-off spot, keeping guests updated on their journey and estimated arrival time while they are on the move. Guests are alerted via text when the robot arrives, along with simple instructions for retrieving their meal.
“It’s always going to be about well-prepared, quality food,” says John Featherston, senior director of new ventures. “But where and how you consume your Chick-fil-A meal based on your daily needs is constantly changing. We want to learn how to extend our hospitality from our restaurants to meet you where you are.”
Providing the best experience for our guests remains a top priority at Chick-fil-A, with ongoing innovation to meet their needs. We are in the early stages of testing robots in a small number of Chick-fil-A restaurant dining rooms as an extra helping hand for Team Members. While the robots are delivering meals, our Team Members have more time to refresh beverages, clear tables and provide guests with the signature hospitality Chick-fil-A is known for.
As we explore new ways to reach our customers and their evolving needs, we will continue to pilot unique delivery methods that are catered to specific restaurant formats and locations. You may see autonomous robots in select mall locations, and even drones, which we are piloting in a small number of restaurants, serving as a new way to deliver Chick-fil-A right to our guests’ doorsteps. But whether your meal is delivered by car, robot or drone, we are dedicated to making sure it’s always delivered with care.
Interested in having your Chick-fil-A order delivered? Visit chick-fil-a.com/delivery to view options near you.
*Delivery options and availability vary by location. Menu prices for delivery are higher than at the restaurant. Additional fees apply; see applicable charges at checkout.