Chick-fil-A Tests Autonomous Delivery at 2 Locations

Refraction AI's self-driving robots provide energy-efficient meal delivery to guests' front door in Austin, Texas.
Anna Wolfe
Senior Editor, Restaurants
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chickfila sandwich and fries

Refraction AI, a last-mile, autonomous robot delivery company, has deployed a fleet of its self-driving vehicles to provide energy-efficient meal deliveries at two Chick-fil-A restaurants located in downtown Austin, Texas. Refraction's approach to last-mile delivery makes the cost, safety and sustainability benefits of self-driving technology available today by serving the rapidly growing demand for goods delivery across multiple categories.

Refraction's Robot-as-a-Service platform combines self-driving technology, tele-operations and a delivery robot that travels in the margin of the road or in a bike lane – avoiding the speed, distance and regulatory constraints of being on the sidewalk, without incurring the safety, technology and cost challenges of full-size autonomous vehicles. Using this approach Refraction is able to complete last-mile deliveries with 90% lower carbon emissions, 80% less energy consumption, at a fraction of the cost of conventional delivery.

"Autonomous delivery using Refraction's robots creates an exciting new opportunity to extend the Chick-fil-A experience to a growing number of delivery guests," said Luke Steigmeyer, Operator of Chick-fil-A 6th & Congress. "The platform will allow us to provide fast, high quality, and cost-effective meal delivery within a mile radius of our restaurant all while helping to keep the community we serve environmentally clean and safe."

Robotics on the Rise

Using AI as much as possible to automate mundane or physically difficult tasks, so that staff can focus on the business of true hospitality, and gain real-world experience with cutting-edge technologies, was a theme echoed at MURTEC  and in particular the panel, IT Gets Real With AI featuring CKE, Inspire Brands and Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe.

Among the brands testing robotics: Wing Zone will make Flippy 2 a part of the chain's standard build for all future restaurant locations. QSR Jack in the Box will begin to pilot Flippy 2 and Sippy. Tech innovator Chipotle is testing a Robotic Kitchen Assistant. After a successful pilot program, White Castle will add Flippy to 100 locations. 

Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Refraction AI develops and operates last-mile, autonomous robot delivery systems for restaurant and retail customers, including both robot-as-a-service and delivery-as-a-service business models. Looking for a way to realize the benefits of self-driving technology today, co-founders Matt Johnson-Roberson and Ram Vasudevan set their sights squarely on last-mile goods delivery. Joined by transportation entrepreneur and CEO Luke Schneider, and an experienced leadership team, Refraction has developed an offering designed to affordably meet the surging demand for delivery in the restaurant, grocery and retail categories, while raising the bar for safety, quality and performance.

After initial testing at Chick-fil-A 6th & Congress, Chick-fil-A and Refraction AI plan to continue exploring autonomous delivery in Austin at the Chick-fil-A restaurant on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard beginning in late June.