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Wendy's will soon deliver mobile orders using underground robots

The burger chain is working with Pipedream to send food from its kitchens to designated parking spots through underground portals.
Wendy's underground
Robots will travel underground to deliver mobile orders to designated pickup portals at Wendy's. / Photo courtesy of Wendy's.

Wendy’s plans to start testing a system of underground portals that will transport food from its kitchens to designated parking spots outside of its restaurants, the company said on Wednesday.

The Dublin, Ohio-based burger chain announced a partnership with the Austin, Texas-based Pipedream, a logistics company working on autonomous underground delivery. Wendy’s plans to integrate Pipedream’s system into a restaurant later this year.

Wendy’s would be the first quick-service restaurant that uses the technology, which will work for mobile orders. The technology uses autonomous robots that transport meals underground and deliver them to a carside Instant Pickup Portal. The idea is to streamline the mobile order pickup process.

The system “has the potential to unlock greater mobile order speed of service and accuracy,” Deepak Ajmani, U.S. chief operations officer for Wendy’s, said in a statement.

Fast-food brands have been experimenting with a wide range of methods for delivering food to mobile order customers and those who use outside drive-thru lanes. Taco Bell, for instance, has opened a restaurant in Minnesota in which mobile-order customers have their food delivered through an elevator from the kitchen above the drive-thru. McDonald’s and other chains, meanwhile, have been testing conveyor systems.

The restaurants want to increase the speed of pickup for mobile orders and reduce theft, a problem when restaurants rely on pickup shelves.

Mobile ordering has become a key source of customer growth for much of the industry in the aftermath of the pandemic, but particularly at quick-service restaurants.

Wendy’s test comes just a week after the chain announced plans to test the use of artificial intelligence in its drive-thrus.

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