Kiwi makes little cooler-sized delivery robots that scurry about college campuses delivering food. Open the app, place your order, and tell the robot where to drop that order off. It’s pretty crazy (and awesome) and a little like having an R2D2 at your beck and call. These little rover bots will change how an entire generation interacts with their meals by making any food delivery on-demand wherever you are. Burrito in quad? Sure! Kiwi has expanded to 15 colleges and is even bringing students at each one on board to run the Kiwi program at those schools.


Fun fact: Kroger was founded in 1883. But over the last year, the grocery giant has been anything but stuck in the past, ramping up its innovation efforts. Through its Ocado investment, Kroger is building 20 smart, robot-driven fulfillment warehouses. It has expanded its self-driving delivery vehicles tests from Scottsdale, AZ to Houston, TX. Kroger also partnered with Microsoft on a smart store and launched an innovation hub with the University of Cincinnati. The company knows it’s locked in a multi-front battle with the likes of Amazon, Walmart and other grocery retailers, and it’s willing to invest and experiment so it doesn’t get left behind.


Where does one begin with Walmart? The company continues to be on a ruthless high-tech tear, trying out all new kinds of innovation. It just launched the IRL store, which uses sensors and cameras to monitor inventory (and will surely lead to cashierless checkout). It’s expanding the use of robots to scan shelves, scrub floors and speed up online order fulfillment. The retailer is even dipping its toes into the driverless delivery vehicles. The point is, this massive company is moving like a startup, and that should concern all of its competitors.


Vending machines are going to change how we eat. I’m not talking about crumpled dollars to get stale snacks or a can of soda. Yo-Kai Express is among a new vanguard of vending machines that dispense hot food on demand. It serves piping hot ramen developed by a Michelin star chef, and it is pretty delicious. Soon, Yo-Kais and other high-end vending machines will be at airports, hospitals, dorm rooms and other public spaces, creating full-on food courts smooshed into a small square footprint and feeding hungry people 24 hours a day.


There is no shortage of startups looking to create the cashierless store experience. Walk in, grab what you want and go. AWM Smart Shelf sets itself apart from the others because cashierless checkout is just one facet of a more holistic, high-tech approach to shopping. AWM incorporates sensors, cameras and smart signage to offer instant, customized ads to you as you stand in front of a shelf wondering what to buy, but it can also guide you around the store, make recommendations and yes, allow you to pay automatically as you walk out of the store.


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