The future of curbside pickup?
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After announcing plans to use an AI chatbot at its drive-thrus, now Wendy’s is piloting a robot-powered “underground delivery system” for online order pickups. The system, which will be built through a partnership with the autonomous logistics company Pipedream, will have robots travel through tunnels to transport online food orders from Wendy’s kitchens to the “Instant Pickup portals” that sit beside parking spaces.
When a customer arrives at a space, they talk to the restaurant crew through the Instant Pickup portal’s speaker to confirm their order. From there, an autonomous robot will traverse a set of tunnels to deliver the food to the customer’s parking space. Wendy’s says Pipedream’s system uses “temperature-controlled delivery technology” that should help prevent food from getting cold (or too warm) while in transit and keeps customers from having to go inside or wait at a drive-thru to grab their food.
“As mobile ordering preferences increase, we’re thrilled to be the first quick service restaurant to partner with Pipedream, leveraging their unique delivery technology and system with the goal of reinventing digital pick-ups to bring more Wendy’s to more people as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Matt Spessard, Wendy’s senior vice president and global chief technology office, says in a statement.
Although Wendy’s hasn’t rolled out the technology to any of its locations just yet, I’m interested to see how it all works. Wendy’s says it is planning to test the system at an existing restaurant later this year.