KFC’s Self-Driving Truck Rolls Out Amid Social Distancing

Read our Malay article on this here

Remember when we used to lament the lack of actual social contact and connection because of our phones? That now feels like a thing of bygone days as we advocate for social distancing and staying at home and completing daily errands online as far as possible.

Even with the vaccine at hand, the pandemic would likely leave a few indelible marks, such as minimising human interaction as we go about our days. So, it is apt that one of our favourite fast-food chains has rolled out self-driving pods that sell and dispense fried chicken, contact-free.

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Image source: Twitter user @shanghaineko

KFC’s little self-driving pods were spotted in Shanghai since late November. Based on Twitter users’ recounting their experience, customers simply make their selection a screen, make payment via a QR code and the door opens for them to collect their order. From the images, it looks like there is nothing stopping a dishonest customer from taking more than what they paid for, but this could easily be remedied with some kind of security tag or CCTV cameras.

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The mobile self-serve restaurant appears to be a partnership between Yum Brands, owner of KFC, and Neolix, a startup focusing on self-driving logistics vehicles. The Beijing-based Neolix managed to raise US$29 million early this year to ramp up production.

Neolix’s delivery vehicles are capable of Level 4 automation, which is completely self-driving in some or all situations. Besides food delivery and mobile retail, the vehicles can be used in security surveillance, disinfection of areas, and even, in Thailand, to deliver medical supplies.

There’s no further info on whether this is just a pilot test (or publicity stunt) but having little robot restaurants driving around sounds like a good idea to us – if we can’t go to KFC, then KFC must come to us.

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