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Sweetgreen Speeds up Infine Kitchen Deployments
Flytrex BVLOS, Amazon Digit, September's fundraising haul
Before we get to this week’s news, we’d like to invite the community to come out on Tuesday, November 14th for an industry happy hour. Meet your peers from the delivery, mobility and restaurant tech fields from 6 to 8 PM in LA’s Arts District. RSVP for free.
Sweetgreen Ramps up Infine Kitchen Deployment
On last week’s earnings call, Sweetgreen CEO Jonathan Neman shared that the salad chain was plowing full steam ahead with its automated Infine Kitchen deployment; the company hopes to build out seven to nine new units using the technology, and retrofit two to four existing locales. Neman claimed the system has “increased throughput, near-perfect order accuracy, portioning consistency, a better team member experience, improved restaurant-level margins and an accretive return on capital,” and that the company will be opening its second location in Huntington Beach, CA.
Sweetgreen has become one of the leading deployers of automated makelines, alongside fellow SoCal-based restaurant chain Chipotle. For more on the space, check out our recent interview with Chipotle CTO Curt Garner, about how the company is using the Hyphen robotic makeline. (OttOmate was delighted to see its report cited by publications as varied as Axios and the Chinese language World Journal.)
Flytrex Secures BVLOS Certification
Drone delivery startup Flytrex, alongside its longtime operations partner Causey Aviation Unmanned, received the coveted Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) exemption from the FAA. This allows the service to operate at further distances, without eyes-on observers. Other drone services to secure BVLOS permission include Zipline, UPS, Amazon Prime Air and Alphabet’s Wing. Refresh yourself on the technicalities, with OttOmate’s interview with an FAA spokesperson on drone operations.
Amazon Deploys Two-Legged Robots
Amazon announced it how has 750,000 robots collaborating with its employees, with new models on the way. Sequoia, a warehouse AMR, will speed up inventory access by 75%. Amazon will also be deploying Digit, a humanoid looking robot from Agility Systems, which the ecommerce giant has invested in. Digit’s shape allows it to move, grasp, and handle items from all corners of the warehouse.
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Burger King Sees Drive-Thru as Digital Transformation Sticking Point
Restaurant Brands International put out its quarterly report, with its Burger King subsidiary continuing to languish. BK’s owners spent years milking the brand, without making the necessary investments in digital presence, delivery, or other optimizations. In late 2022, the company looked to finally turn things around, with a plan to spend $250 million on restaurant technology, kitchen equipment and building enhancements. But the company is now finding out how difficult it will be to make that crown shine once more, with the drive-thru proving to be particularly difficult for the brand to automate and digitize. Perhaps the King can take a look at the AI voice chat systems being used at Carl’s Jr or Wendy’s?
Robotics Startups Haul in $1.8 Billion in September
The ninth month of the year was a particularly good one for the robotics and automation industry, as it hauled in $1.84 billion in fresh funding, more than double the month prior. While Stack AV raised a whopping billion dollars for autonomous trucking, there were some other big checks cashed as well: AeroVironment raised $109M for its drone systems, Sojo Industries raised nearly $3M for its food packaging robots, and Diligent Robotics pulled in $25M for its healthcare-focused humanoid cobots.
In Other News
AI-powered smoothie shop closes after two months, but was it all according to plan? Folks dress up as delivery bots for Halloween, showing how far the industry has come towards mass acceptance. Video of a restaurant grease-cleaning robot at work. Walmart pouring half a billion dollars into digital store upgrades. Behind the scenes at the decision to pull Cruise AVs off the streets. Coca-Cola using AI-powered personalization to boost sales.