Tech Tracker: Robots brew Panera coffee and drones deliver wings

Machine convenience is the theme of this month’s tech news roundup. From Flytrex expanding its partnership with Brinker Brands to offer super-fast delivery in the Dallas area, to hamburger vending machines and a new Miso Robotics AI product that can automatically make coffee, the restaurant industry is at the cutting edge of technology without a human being.

Tech Tracker summarizes what’s happening in the technology sector of the restaurant industry, including news from restaurants, suppliers, digital platforms and third-party delivery companies. Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know and why:

Panera Bread tests a coffee infuser robot

The fleet of MisoRobotics robots continues to expand: from Flippy the French fries cooker to Sippy the soft drink vending machine and Chippy the Chipotle tortilla chip robot. Now, the latest AI kitchen assistant to join the fray is the CookRight Coffee AI intelligence-powered system that can use data and predictive analytics to brew “the perfect cup of coffee.”

Panera Bread is the first brand to test this new robotic product (which has no anthropomorphic name) and will use it to eliminate some manual work, including manual checks of the coffee urn and the volume and temperature of the coffee to ensure ideal coffee freshness. and temperature at any time of the day. The robot is also designed to evolve as it learns more about its environment.

“CookRight Coffee is a game-changer in convenience and operational efficiency,” George Hanson, senior vice president and chief digital officer of Panera, said in a statement.

Brinker expands drone delivery with Flytrex

The age of super-fast delivery has arrived, with a little help from drone technology. Brinker International, Inc. is expanding its partnership with Flytrex, offering five-minute, hands-off deliveries in the Dallas-Fort Worth, TX area.

“With a focus on customer experience and convenience – alongside our killer wings – this new outpost in partnership with Flytrex is another exciting step in the right direction,” said Wade Allen, Vice President senior innovation officer at Brinker in a statement.

Flytrex first launched its super-fast, automated drone delivery service in Iceland in 2017, and recently received an FAA waiver that allowed it to expand the delivery service to 10,000 homes in cities. from North Carolina.

DoorDash Partners with Wix and Adds DashPass for Students

DoorDash announced in March a new partnership with cloud-based developer platform Wix to launch on-demand delivery with DoorDash Drive. Now, restaurants that build their website using Wix can fulfill drop-shipping orders through their own website, without using DoorDash directly.

But that’s not the only news announced by DoorDash this month. The third-party delivery company has announced DashPass for Students for $4.99 per month (it normally costs $9.99 per month), with unlimited orders and promotions with no delivery charges. DashPass for Students membership is eligible for all undergraduate and graduate students at accredited colleges and universities in the United States.

RoboBurger launches the first AI burger chef in a vending machine

The first robotic hamburger vending machine opened in a New Jersey mall in March. RoboBurger can make a burger in less than six minutes, is contactless, and doesn’t require human hands to operate.

The machine – which fits in a 12 square foot space – includes a refrigerator, an automated hot plate and a cleaning system. The robot chef grills the patty, toasts the bun, dispenses selected condiments and delivers it for $6.99 per burger. The technology will soon be rolled out in more places, including shopping malls, airports, colleges and offices.

“I started RoboBurger in my garage 17 years ago, and now there couldn’t be a better time to bring it to life and have everyone experience it,” said Audley Wilson, co-founder and CEO of RoboBurger.

Thanx acquires data analytics platform ZeroStorefront

Loyalty and guest engagement platform Thanx earlier this month announced the acquisition of data insights platform ZeroStorefront to advance the progression of “Loyalty 3.0”.

ZeroStorefront will provide “data-driven insights” about Thanx restaurant customers to provide personalized options for loyalty programs. Customers of restaurant operator Thanx include Velvet Taco, Hopdoddy Burger Bar, Modern Restaurant Concepts and Kneader’s Bakery and Cafe.

This is also the second acquisition for Thanx recently: the company also acquired Hidden Menu, which allows operators to offer hidden menus to loyal customers to access secret menu items.

Yelp adds health inspections to restaurant profiles

Yelp launched a new feature in late March that displays restaurant health inspection information for customers browsing Yelp listings.

In partnership with data and technology solutions company Hazel Analytics, Yelp now has access to health and hygiene information for 700,000 businesses in 48 US states. You can find a restaurant’s health scores under the “amenities and more” tab on a Yelp profile.

The health score displayed will either be a health department score received directly from the local health department, a Hazel score that uses publicly available health data, or an estimated health score on a scale of 100 points based on a health department inspection. comments.

“The expansion of Yelp’s Health Scores program comes at a time when people are returning to indoor dining as COVID-19 restrictions continue to lift, health inspections restart from the first pandemic pause and restaurants are adopting more dining safety measures like contactless payments and virtual menus,” Yelp said in a blog post announcing the new feature.

Olo now partners with technology platforms Vromo and Soci

Olo announced two technology partnerships this month: With delivery management solutions company, Vromo, Olo restaurants will be able to further simplify the process of communicating restaurant orders with shipping by using route optimization technology to make save time for restaurants (and drivers).

Vromo claims that with this capability, restaurants can increase delivery capacity, shorten delivery times and build customer confidence. The partnership is available to Olo’s network of more than 500 multi-unit restaurant brands.

Olo’s partnership with marketing platform Soci, meanwhile, will be the connector for localized data and digital menu management, and will give Olo a single place where customer location data can be updated. . The operator’s name, address, phone number, hours of operation and other location information, including branded menu links, will be updated across all platforms, including Google, Facebook, Apple Maps, Yelp.

MAVI introduces in-vehicle restaurant ordering technology

In-car ordering continues to be a growing technology that really hones the mantra of “meeting the customer where they are” (even if they are in a moving vehicle). Mavi.io announced this month the creation of Mavi commerce ordering. Called OnMyWay, the technology allows customers to take orders by voice at restaurants, stores and service providers without having to pick up the phone while driving.

“Drivers love the convenience of curbside pickup and they want to be able to shop from their car safely and efficiently to get the most out of every trip,” said Cynthia Hollen, CEO and Co-Founder of Mavi. .io in a release. “Mavi offers consumers a safe and easy way to shop from the driver’s seat […] For retailers and service providers, Mavi’s in-vehicle marketplace brings customers back to their store doors and drives new customer acquisition, sales and loyalty, ensuring they can meet their customers’ needs. on the go for immediacy and convenience.

Hiring Tool Lands Raises $7M in Seed Funding

Landed, the digital recruiting tool, announced $7 million in seed funding after growing its revenue 20x since the start of 2021.

Javelin Venture Partners and Blockchain Capital led the funding round, while other investors include Lightspeed Venture Partners, founders of online eyewear retailer Warby Parker, shaving supplies company Harry’s, Allbirds’ Good Friends fund and the founders of the ThinkFood group of José Andrés. .

Landed is working to connect blue-collar workers looking for work with restaurant and retail companies like Cava, Blaze Pizza, Panera, Chick-fil-A, Taco Bell, using hiring automation to ensure companies receive a diverse and qualified roster of candidates. This tool is especially useful at a time when retention rates in the restaurant and retail industry are low.

Contact Joanna at [email protected]

Find her on Twitter: @JoannaFantozzi

Luz W. German