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Magna & Marco's, Zipline Secures BVLOS, FedEx's New Bots
Nourish + Bloom expands, Curbivore returns
If it’s Monday, that means it’s time for our weekly review of all the most important stories of the past seven days. For those of you that have joined us after OttOmate broke the story of Tesla starting construction of its first restaurant: OttOmate is your go-to source for automation and robotics in the restaurant, retail, grocery and delivery sectors. Every Monday we publish a roundup and analysis of the biggest issues of the week; every Thursday we write up an in-depth interview, long form trend report or news-breaking assessment of an important player in the space. Check out our recent report on the state of delivery robotics in 2023, and consider getting full access for just $5/mo with a Pro subscription.
Marco’s Pizza Trials Magna Delivery Bots
Marco’s Pizza is collaborating with auto parts manufacturer Magna International to innovate in the realm of last-mile food delivery. Marco's, now the fifth-largest pizza chain in the U.S., aims to make automated delivery devices available to its franchisees at an affordable rate. Magna International, while traditionally known for auto parts, has ventured into the mobility and delivery sector recently. They not only produce their own delivery robot but also have a strategic alliance with delivery bot startup Cartken, serving as both a manufacturer and investor. This dual association raises the question of whether Magna can provide impartial recommendations to Marco's given its diverse interests in delivery bot solutions.
Nourish + Bloom Expands Grocery Pods Throughout Atlanta
Nourish + Bloom, recognized as the first Black-owned autonomous grocery store, is set to expand with two new locations in Atlanta, built within shipping containers. This growth comes with support from Invest Atlanta, which awarded the company an Economic Opportunity Fund Food Access Grant of up to $600,000. The upcoming stores will be situated in Pittsburgh Yards, south of downtown, and on Campbellton Road. The company, founded by Jamie Michael Hemmings and Jilea Hemmings, launched its pioneer store in Fayetteville, Ga., in early 2022. Nourish + Bloom offers a range of locally-sourced items, from produce and meats to dairy and ready-made meals, with a checkout-free shopping experience. The founders have previously expressed intentions to establish over 400 Nourish + Bloom Markets, aiming for round-the-clock operations, as shared in our May interview with Jilea Hemmings.
Zipline Secures BVLOS Approval
Drone opeator Zipline has obtained an exemption from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to operate commercial drone deliveries beyond visual line of sight. Previously limited by FAA certifications, this exemption will significantly expand Zipline's delivery capabilities in Arkansas and Utah. The company aims to commence these advanced deliveries later this year. Zipline's CEO, Keller Rinaudo Cliffton, expressed that the exemption will allow them to serve millions and revolutionize the integration of autonomous aircraft in the U.S. Zipline's drone system, Platform 1, is operational across three continents. They are set to introduce Platform 2, catering to various sectors, including healthcare and food. The approval puts the startup at parity with other operators like UPS and uAvionix that recently secured the same exemptions.
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FedEx Beefs Up Robotic Operations
FedEx is collaborating with Dexterity AI to test the use of AI-powered robots, named DexR, for more efficient loading of its FedEx Ground trailers. DexR autonomously connects to a conveyor system that supplies boxes directly from the facility's sorting system. Its dual-arm design enables simultaneous box picking and packing, enhancing efficiency. The technology aims to handle the variety of shipments, considering factors like size, shape, and weight. Rebecca Yeung from FedEx mentioned that this collaboration supports their operations while addressing growing customer demands, while analysts suspect the investment may lead to FedEx cutting down on its labor force. Dexterity’s AI software enables the robot to assess loading methods, gently adjust boxes, and refine its efficiency using machine learning.
Tesla Breaks Ground on First Restaurant
Last week OttOmate was excited to break the story of Tesla breaking ground of its first restaurant, located in Los Angeles’ Hollywood neighborhood. Evidently the internet was excited too, as word traveled across social as well as sites like Electrek, Teslarati, Drive Tesla Canada, Auto Evolution, France’s Mobiwisy, and more. If you missed our Premium Subscriber-only construction photos, we’ve temporarily made them available to all viewers.
In Other News
Amazon expands Just Walk Out with Shift4 partnership. Teamsters push NHTSA to oppose Cruise Origin. Cartken and Grubhub come to Cal State Bakersfield. Thoughtful interview with Tiny Mile’s Founder. Video of a foiled delivery robot hijacking. Bakers like Panera found to be exempt from CA’s new $20/hr fast food minimum wage; will we start seeing Subway franchisees list “baguettes” on the menu?
PARTNER | Curbivore Conf Brings Delivery & Automation Execs to LA
The Curbivore conference returns to LA: March 28 & 29, 2024. This event brings together the entire world of delivery and restaurant automation — speakers have included Uber’s Head of Grocery + Retail Fulfillment Products David Meers, Walmart’s VP of Spark Driver Platform Nav Chadha, Kitchen United CEO Michael Montagano, Pizzana Founder Candace Nelson, Business Insider Restaurant Correspondent Nancy Luna, Wonder Co-Founder Chad Lore, Yummy.com CEO Barnaby Montgomery, JOKR COO Aspa Lekka, Nextbite CEO Alex Canter, Serve Co-Founder MJ Chun, Stellar Pizza CEO Benson Tsai and many more. $99 Early Bird tix available for a limited time!