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Juxta's Autonomous Market Heads to Denver, Tyson Teams Up with Gatik
Instcart updates Caper Carts, Circus buys Aitme, Chick-fil-A tray bots, FAA OKs UPS
Robots are hard at work this week on every side of the spectrum: cooking, prepping, delivering, even flying. Let’s get right to it…
Tyson & Gatik Team Up in Arkansas
Tyson Food is collaborating with Gatik to automate its middle mile deliveries in the Northwest Arkansas region. They plan to use 26-foot refrigerated box trucks capable of carrying around 15,000 lbs. This move will allow Tyson to allocate its larger 53-foot trucks to longer, more profitable routes. Tyson estimates annual savings of $900,000 when the project is fully operational. Gatik's expertise in the NW Arkansas area, previously honed through its partnership with Walmart, makes the venture promising. Gatik has also efficiently spread its fixed costs by forging multiple partnerships in areas such as Dallas-Fort Worth. A notable highlight from the collaboration is the emphasis on safety. Gatik's CEO, Gautam Narang, highlighted the company's accident-free record while in autonomous mode, perhaps differentiating it from the issues robotaxis are having in San Francisco.
Juxta Launches in Denver with Choice Market
Denver's Choice Market is set to unveil a mobile, frictionless shopping experience via Juxta’s Nomad autonomous micro retail store. The store offers a conventional shopping experience where customers can pay using debit/credit cards or mobile wallets, with an AI-powered computer vision system and automated shelf sensors tracking purchases. Customers can either review their cart at the checkout screen or simply walk out. The store will debut at the Renewal 2023 music festival in Buena Vista, Colo., operating 24/7 for the festival attendees. Other players in this space include AiFi, which operates a similar NanoStore model used in permanent locations in the Bay Area, a pilot at Schipol Airport in Amsterdam, and most recently launched an install at the University of San Diego.
Instacart Updates Caper Carts
Instacart has unveiled significant enhancements to their offerings for grocers. The most notable updates concern their Caper Carts: these AI-augmented carts have received advanced camera and weight sensor precision, allow users to directly order made-to-order items like deli sandwiches, present in-store rewards like points or badges for specific actions, and introduce a novel Caper Cart Dock for efficient stacked charging. Additionally, the company launched an "In-Store Mode" for retailer apps, providing in-shop assistance to customers, and an AI-powered conversational search feature where customers can make open-ended queries.
"We know that our customers love shopping our weekly flyer," said Diane Colgan, Senior Vice President, Marketing for Northeast Grocery, Inc supporting Price Chopper/Market 32 and Tops stores. "The new Instacart Storefront will make it even easier for us to offer more personalized options when they shop online or in stores. And by introducing In-Store mode, our customers will be able to shop deals no matter how they choose to shop. Introducing these new products reflects our dedication to delivering an enhanced and enjoyable digital shopping experience."
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FAA Okays BVLOS Operations for UPS’ Drones
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted UPS Flight Forward, a drone delivery subsidiary of UPS, the authorization to conduct long-distance flights beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS) without the need for ground spotters using Matternet M2 drones. This move paves the way for drone delivery enterprises such as Wing, FedEx, and Zip to expand their service areas. Additionally, the FAA has granted BVLOS permissions to uAvionix Corp. and infrastructure inspection firm Phoenix Air Unmanned. UPS's drone endeavors initially concentrated on delivering for US hospital campuses after gaining approval in 2019. Zipline is expected to receive its own authorization shortly.
Circus Acquires Cooking Robotics Startup Aitme
German ghost kitchen operator Circus has acquired Aitme, a Berlin-based culinary robotics firm founded in 2019. Circus, headquartered in Hamburg, utilizes specialized micro-kitchen hubs that synergize automation and digitalization. Their recipes, crafted by artificial intelligence, offer a diverse range of dishes optimized for low production costs and resource efficiency. The company, which launched in 2022, now operates in cities like Hamburg, Cologne, Berlin, and Duisburg and has secured €18 million in funding. Prior to the acquisition, Aitme’s main target market was office canteens.
Chick-fil-A Testing Tray Robots
A Chick-fil-A restaurant in Bryan, Texas, is integrating new technology into its service by deploying a tray delivery robot nicknamed Wall-E to serve breakfast to its customers. This move surprised many given Chick-fil-A's renowned emphasis on a hospitality-driven workforce. The chain confirmed that it is testing autonomous robots in a few locations to assist team members with serving in the dining room. While these robots handle meal deliveries, human employees are free to focus on other aspects of guest hospitality. The robots, which have also been sighted at other outlets, deliver food directly to tables and prompt customers for their table number. However, tasks like refilling drinks still rely on human intervention. From the brief video, it’s hard to ascertain which manufacturer Chick-fil-A is working with, although is better resembles a Pudu Bot than a Bear Robotics Servi. The Georgian chicken chain is known for dabbling with technology, one franchisor uses Refraction AI, while other locations are also reportedly considering branching into delivery robotics.
In Other News
British delivery drone startup Iona joins Techstars LA. Grubhub and Starship launch at Sam Houston State University. SHO gives up on trying to launch NFT-backed restaurant in SF’s Salesforce Tower. Brain Corp. adds Site Maps for AMR fleets. Rockwell Automation buys Clearpath Robotics. PeyBot rolls out to the Gulf.