Cashierless stores graduate to college campuses
Automated grocery stores have been slowly but surely popping up worldwide since the launch of Amazon Go. Now a checkout-free concept is on its way to college campuses, along with some other new tech-enhanced food solutions for students.
School food service provider Sodexo announced that it will be launching autonomous grocery stores on college campuses nationwide beginning this spring. The grocery concept is called eat>NOW, and one of the first will open on the campus of the University of Denver on April 6.
Sodexo is also making available high-tech touchscreen meal vending machines offering 80 selections including ramen and udon. Finally, the vendor is launching three delivery-only virtual restaurant concepts available through its app for universities for dorm room delivery.
AiFi, the vendor Sodexo is partnering with to implement the autonomous grocery stores, makes a turnkey solution that allows retailers to launch completely checkout-free stores similar to Amazon Go, according to TechCrunch. The solution relies on artificial intelligence and computer vision.
Earlier this year Aldi partnered with AiFi in the UK to launch its first checkout-free location in London, according to Retail Technology Innovation Hub.
While Just Walk Out technology and other gradations of cashierless checkout are not quite mainstream, they could be gaining steam in grocery. Amazon.com recently opened its second Whole Foods store equipped with Just Walk Out technology, according to Produce Blue Book.
Colleges are becoming a popular place for other kinds of automated and robotic retail technology, as well.
Rolling delivery robots, for instance, are in use on college campuses throughout the U.S. While outside of college environments, municipalities have had mixed responses to such robots due to potential public safety concerns, college campuses may represent a more controlled environment where the robots can roam.
Last month the University of Tennessee joined the list of schools deploying rolling drones for food delivery on its sidewalks, according to a local news report. The vehicles are made by Starship Technologies.
In 2019, Starship Technologies was operating on 20 college campuses in 15 states when The Verge reported that it was expanding to four new schools.
- Sodexo Campus Innovation Takes Major Leap Forward with Eat NOW Autonomous Grocery Stores Powered by AiFi, Ramen-Making Robots, Mariah Carey’s Cookies, and MrBeast Burger – Globe Newswire
- AiFi emerges from stealth with its own take on cashier-free retail similar to Amazon Go – TechCrunch
- AiFi tech powers new Aldi UK checkout-free concept store – Retail Technology Innovation Hub
- Tour Amazon’s second Just Walk Out Whole Foods store – Produce Blue Book
- Company launches food-delivery robots on University of Tennessee campus – WBIR News
- Starship Technologies’ delivery robots are coming to more college campuses this fall – The Verge
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you expect that the reaction to autonomous grocers on campuses will be different than in general markets? How valuable are campuses as testing grounds when considering technology for general use?