Wendy’s to Pilot Underground Delivery

The system will send food from the kitchen to a parking spot for digital-only customers.

May 22, 2023

DUBLIN, Ohio—Wendy’s is testing an target=”_blank”underground autonomous robot system with the goal of delivering digital food orders from the kitchen to designated parking spots in seconds. The fast-food chain has partnered with Pipedream, a hyperlogistics company, on the project.

"We know that serving orders quickly and accurately leads to increased customer satisfaction," said Deepak Ajmani, U.S. chief operations officer, The Wendy's Company. "Pipedream's Instant Pickup system has the potential to unlock greater mobile order speed of service and accuracy, enabling us to consistently deliver hot and fresh Wendy's products to our fans."

Pipedream's technology is designed to make digital order pick-up fast, reliable and invisible, according to Wendy’s. By connecting the kitchen to a pickup portal positioned outside the restaurant, this delivery system is designed to provide digital customers with a fast and convenient pick-up option without having to leave their car and increase efficiencies for restaurant crew members by streamlining digital order pick-up points. The technology uses autonomous robots to transport meals underground and deliver at the car-side portal.

Wendy's plans to integrate Pipedream's delivery system into an existing restaurant later this year.

"At Wendy's, we are consistently innovating to meet our customers however they choose to engage with us," said Matt Spessard, senior vice president and global chief technology officer, The Wendy's Company. "As mobile ordering preferences increase, we're thrilled to be the first quick service restaurant to partner with Pipedream, leveraging its unique delivery technology and system with the goal of reinventing digital pick-ups to bring more Wendy's to more people as quickly and efficiently as possible."

"We're proud to partner with an iconic, innovative brand like Wendy's to bring the future of mobile order pick-up to the quick service industry," said Garrett McCurrach, CEO, Pipedream. "By solving order handoff, the final leg of the digital experience, our Instant Pickup technology allows Wendy's restaurant team members to focus on what matters: serving delicious, high-quality food and connecting with customers in this digital-first world."

Wendy’s recently announced it is testing a system that uses AI chatbots to take customers’ order at the drive-thru, partnering with Google Cloud on the technology. If the pilot proves successful, it could be expanded. The pilot will include new generative AI offerings, such as Vertex AI and more, that will be able to have conversations with customers, understand made-to-order requests and generate responses to frequently asked questions.

Presto Automation recently announced the expansion of a partnership with CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, to roll out its AI-powered solution, Presto Voice, to automate voice ordering at CKE drive-thru locations nationwide.

Uber Eats has partnered with Amazon’s Alexa to allow customers to use their Echo devices to track the status of their Uber Eats orders, while Panera Bread announced that MyPanera members can now order via Alexa on Echo Show devices.

Convenience retailer Casey’s uses AI to answer phone calls when customers order pizza. According to the retailer, results have been very positive.

Foodservice is labor intensive, and retailers are finding creative ways to get more from their workers. The May issue of NACS Magazine focuses on foodservice and includes the article Well-Equipped, which looks at labor-saving foodservice equipment.