Chick-fil-A, an U.S-based fast food restaurant chain specializing in chicken sandwiches with a side of god, said that it enlisted Refraction AI to deploy a fleet of self-driving vehicles to two restaurants in downtown Austin, Texas.
Matthew Johnson-Roberson, chief technology officer and co-founder of Refraction AI, said the deal with Chick-fil-A was part of a more extensive set of tests the firm was running to understand how it could serve quick-service restaurants (QSR) by maximizing the effectiveness and profitability of robotic delivery. Working with a large chain such as Chick-fil-A rather than individual restaurants could quickly fill up the startup’s fleet capacity for all the robots it has now and probably other robots they could potentially build near to mid-term.
Refraction’s REV-1 robot is affectionately nicknamed the ‘Goldilocks of robotic delivery.’ The robot is not too big to only operate on streets and not too small to only operate on sidewalks. The delivery robot was built on a bicycle foundation and functions in the bike lane, traveling at speeds of around 15 miles per hour. According to Johnson-Roberson, this allows the firm to increase delivery time while keeping tech costs down—slower speeds than a large-sized autonomous driving vehicle mean less risk and no need for expensive lidar to see far away.