Chick-fil-A is partnering with Kiwibot to test robotic deliveries in the Santa Monica area.
The news was revealed in conjunction with the launch of Kiwibot 4.0, which uses a new set of cameras, lights, speakers, and modular features (the robot is able to wink). According to Kiwibot, the latest version includes sensors to detect people, traffic lights, vehicles, and to make decisions on path planning and obstacle avoidance. The robots are remotely controlled by human supervisors to ensure safety.
The average delivery takes roughly 30 minutes and costs $1.99, a stark contrast to the high fees from third-party delivery companies. The pilots with Chick-fil-A in the past year have been used to evaluate the impact robots have on customer experience, Kiwibot said.
Going forward, the company will leverage a manufacturing partnership with Segway to improve robot capabilities. Additionally, by the beginning of May, Shopify customers in Los Angeles, San Jose, Miami, Pittsburgh, and Detroit will have access to the robots.
Since 2017, Kiwibot has completed more than 150,000 food deliveries and built 400 robots. The company’s goal is to become the largest robotic fleet in the world and “build an ecosystem to serve college campuses.”
Chick-fil-A isn’t the only quick-service chain venturing into upgraded delivery technology. In late March, Chipotle announced that it invested in Nuro, a self-driving car company. Domino’s is also partnering with Nuro via autonomous pizza delivery in the Houston market. Founded in 2016, Nuro’s objective from the beginning has been “harnessing the power of robotics and artificial intelligence to solve challenges at a global scale.”
The innovation is attempting to capitalize on a growing trend among consumers. Delivery orders began 2020 by growing 1 percent, but by the end of the year, order volume had increased 137 percent, according to The NPD Group.