Wendy's Wants a Fleet of Subterranean Robots to Bring You Burgers
The future of fast food is a series of tubes.
If you're parked in the Wendy's parking lot and wondering where the heck your mobile pickup order is, there could be a chance it's right under your nose ... or rather, right under the asphalt.
This week, the burger chain announced its partnership with Pipedream, an "autonomous underground delivery company," to test a new method for getting food from its restaurant kitchens to customers waiting outside in their cars. As it stands, with many order-ahead and drive-up options, either a worker has to manually carry an order out to the respective vehicle when the driver arrives, or the driver must leave their vehicle to enter the restaurant — that's assuming we're not bothering with the line at the drive-thru window.
But Pipedream's technology essentially puts drive-thru windows, or "portals," at multiple parking spots, allowing a team of robots to shuttle the food where it needs to go in seconds. And all of it's done in a series of tunnels below the parking lot.
Once the food reaches the assigned portal, it's raised up for the customer to retrieve. The tech would represent what a statement from the restaurant brand calls an industry first.
Related:Chipotle's 'Chippy' Robot Makes Tortilla Chips Imperfect On Purpose
"At Wendy's, we are consistently innovating to meet our customers however they choose to engage with us," Matt Spessard, Senior Vice President and Global Chief Technology Officer at The Wendy's Company, said in the announcement. "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."
"We're proud to partner with an iconic, innovative brand like Wendy's to bring the future of mobile order pick-up to the quick service industry," Garrett McCurrach, CEO of Pipedream, stated. "By solving order handoff, the final leg of the digital experience, our Instant Pick-up technology allows Wendy's restaurant team members to focus on what matters: serving delicious, high-quality food and connecting with customers in this digital-first world."
But don't start listening for subterranean robot traffic at your local Wendy's right away. The pilot program is set to launch at just a single Wendy's location later this year.
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