Chick-fil-A set to start robot delivery in Austin

A Refraction AI robot makes a delivery.

Written by James Shea

A Chick-fil-A franchise is testing autonomous delivery in Austin, Texas with Refraction AI, a last-mile, autonomous robot delivery company. Refraction plans to begin testing at a single location but hopes to expand in June.

Refraction’s vehicles are larger than a delivery robot such as Starship and smaller than an autonomous vehicle. Refraction says its vehicles operate in bike lanes and other small spaces.

“Autonomous delivery using Refraction’s robots creates an exciting new opportunity to extend the Chick-fil-A experience to a growing number of delivery guests,” said Luke Steigmeyer, operator of a Chick-fil-A in Austin. “The platform will allow us to provide fast, high quality, and cost-effective meal delivery within a mile radius of our restaurant all while helping to keep the community we serve environmentally clean and safe.”

Refraction was founded in 2019 and has raised several million in seed funding. The company claims the robot can operate in snow and other winter weather conditions. The company has been testing the robot in Michigan where Refraction is based.

Refraction is an interesting concept because it solves some of the problems of smaller autonomous robots. It can ride on the road and is not confined to sidewalks like the smaller delivery robots. But it is not as big as a regular passenger vehicle. Refraction has developed an offering designed to affordably meet the demand for delivery in the restaurant, grocery and retail categories while raising the bar for safety, quality and performance, according to the company.

“We are thrilled about working with Chick-fil-A, an organization that is admired and respected as much for its commitment to the communities it serves, as it is for the innovation and quality of its business,” Refraction CEO Luke Schneider said. “We are kindred spirits partnering with Chick-fil-A restaurants to demonstrate a smart, sensible approach to delivery that continues a tradition of surprising and delighting guests.”

After initial testing at Chick-fil-A 6th & Congress, Chick-fil-A and Refraction AI plan to continue exploring autonomous delivery in Austin at the Chick-fil-A restaurant on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard beginning in late June.

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