Chartwells plans 100 autonomous retail stores on campuses


In this special edition of its 5 Things series, Food Management highlights five recent technology-related developments affecting the foodservice world.

Here’s your list for today:

  1. Chartwells plans 100 autonomous retail stores on campuses

Autonomous retail company Standard AI is expanding its partnership with contract food service management firm Chartwells Higher Education to bring 100 autonomous retail stores to several US universities after two years of collaboration. The two firms teamed in 2020 when Chartwells retrofitted an existing retail space at the University of Houston using Standard AI’s autonomous platform to enable students to walk in, select their items and walk out. Chartwells and Standard AI recently collaborated on six new and revamped markets, with the store at The University of Texas at Dallas opening soon, while the first fully-autonomous store in Silicon Valley was opened last year at San Jose State University’s Ginger Market.

Read more: Universities Bringing Autonomous Retail to ‘Shoppers of Tomorrow’

  1. First NFL stadium Just Walk Out store to open in Seattle

The NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and Lumen Field announced plans to modernize the stadium’s concessions experience with a new store powered by Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology for checkout-free shopping, and Amazon One for entry and payment with palm recognition, thanks to collaboration with Lumen Field hospitality partner Levy and Levy’s DBK Studio innovation studio. Lumen Field will become the first NFL stadium to implement both technologies in a single store, with the venue scheduled to open in time for the 2022 Seahawks regular season.

Read more: Seattle Seahawks and Lumen Field to Become First NFL Venue to Open a Food and Beverage Store Powered by Amazon’s Just Walk Out Technology and Amazon One

  1. Labor shortage fueling record robot sales

The US robotics industry is booming, partly thanks to the nation’s record labor shortage. For the third consecutive quarter, US robotics sales numbers have hit a record high, according to figures from the Association for Advancing Automation (A3) trade group. Businesses like restaurants and food delivery operators have turned to robotics in droves since the pandemic began, which may have accelerated a trend that was seeing businesses already move toward automation. Last year, one-third of firms were already “implementing or exploring automation to replace workers,” a survey of chief financial officers by Duke University found.

Read more: The Great Resignation forced US companies to order a record number of robots

  1. Restaurants accused of voice ordering privacy violations

Applebees, Chipotle and Red Lobster are among a number of automated restaurant chains accused of violating biometric privacy by allegedly using voice ordering technology that captures consumers’ voiceprints without consent. A group of customers are claiming that the restaurants are in violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) by allegedly collecting and storing their biometric identifiers without obtaining informed prior written consent. The customers argue the restaurants—which also include Blaze Pizza, Noodles & Co., and Portillo’s—and the companies behind the automated voice ordering systems failed to disclose they were collecting biometric data or to provide data retention and destruction policies.

Read more: Applebees, Chipotle, other restaurants face class action alleging automated voice ordering technology data privacy violations

  1. Lasers shoo away birds on California farms

Green Spring Farm in Stockton, Calif., where pesky birds used to damage more than 8% of the production, is now seeing that damage reduced by more than 70% thanks to the laser bird deterrent AVIX Autonomic Mark II from vendor Cypress AgriTech. The high-tech scarecrow can be programmed via a user-friendly app to shine a laser beam across predetermined paths, and since birds perceive green laser frequencies as solid object, they flee immediately when the beam moves toward them without getting harmed.

Read more: Lasers Save California Farms Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars on Bird Damage Annually

Bonus: Rollins College Opens All-In-One Dining and Shopping Spot

Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]

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