As with many posts we write about on The Spoon, there is the news and then there is the story.
The news rumbling across Twitter and as reported by Cnet’s Roadshow is that KFC-branded self-driving vehicles were spotted on the road in China bringing fried chicken to people outside. Roadshow reports that this “restaurant on wheels” looks like it’s a partnership between Yum Brands (which owns KFC) and a Chinese company called Neolix (though neither company confirmed that news). From Roadshow’s story:
As for how the little food pods work, it looks like customers make a selection via screens and pay via a QR code and then a door opens to reveal their order. It’s not clear what stops someone from taking more than what they ordered, but surely there’s some sort of system for that. There isn’t anyone inside preparing food as it happens.
Keeping people from taking food that isn’t theirs probably isn’t too big of an issue. This could be addressed either through cameras and computer vision or shelf sensors or both. If a person took more than they had ordered, they would probably just get charged more.
So the news is that China has self-driving cars acting as mobile restaurants. That’s cool. But the bigger story here is what the heck is going on with the international KFC brands? This rolling chicken stand is just the latest example of the company bringing its food into a sci-fi-style future. Consider other moves that KFC has done abroad:
- A KFC in Moscow is using a system of conveyor belts and an articulating arm to shuttle food from the kitchen into a locker from which customers pick up their order.
- In July, KFC Russia announced that it was “launching the development of innovative 3D bioprinting technology to create chicken meat in cooperation with the 3D Bioprinting Solutions research laboratory.”
- Last month, KFC in Korea partnered with Hyundai to develop chicken frying robots.
I realize the grass is always greener on the other side, but it seems like the only thing KFC in the U.S. is working is… a better drive-thru (womp womp). I mean, that’s important, but come on! Where are our robots?