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These 3 big restaurants use cool technology to serve fast-food super quickly

Brian Sozzi
·Anchor, Editor-at-Large
·3 min read
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Without question, the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the fast-food industry. 

Dining rooms at many of the biggest fast-food chains either remain closed or are operating at less than full capacity due to government restrictions. In turn, that has sent diners off to ordering their fast-food fixes from mobile devices and then picking up their grub from delivery windows or having it brought right to their house via an Uber Eats or Grubhub. 

The flood of on-demand ordering during the pandemic has caused fast-food executives to begin rethinking how they get food to customers. Priority number one: get the food out the door faster than ever before with less contact, by say redesigning restaurants or using new types of technology. 

"A year ago our business was 20% digital and 80% in person. And overnight, that flipped — it became 80% digital and 20% in person. Today we are about 20% digital," Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti told Yahoo Finance Live after striking a deal with Uber Eats to power deliveries from its app. "We learned very quickly that we want to give our guests more and more tools to add convenience to that experience."

Here are three big fast-food chains that are testing creative, tech-driven ways to get you that burger, taco, pizza or chicken sandwich even quicker.

Domino's Pizza

The new face of Domino's Pizza delivery.
The new face of Domino's Pizza delivery.

The pizza giant said this week it struck a deal with self-driving delivery company Nuro. The deal will see the launch of autonomous pizza delivery (via the machine pictured above) this week in Houston. Select customers in the city who place an order on Domino's website can choose to have their pizza delivery by Nuro's R2 robot. 

The robot is the first autonomous on-road delivery vehicle with a regulatory approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Domino's points out

Looks like a quick easy way to get a pizza without having to interact with a delivery driver. Or maybe soon a burrito, too — earlier this month, Chipotle disclosed it has invested in Nuro.

Taco Bell

The new Taco Bell in New York City's Times Square is all about the touchscreens.
The new Taco Bell in New York City's Times Square is all about the touchscreens.

Taco Bell opened a snazzy new location in New York City's Times Square on Wednesday. And this Taco Bell is built mostly for one thing only: Get your food super quickly and get back out into the party scene. 

Take note of all the touch screens for food and drinks in the image above. There will likely be minimal interaction with an employee (as they are in the back making the food, not taking orders).

Chick-fil-A

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The chicken sandwich maker is dabbling in autonomous delivery as well. 

Chick-fil-A is testing robot delivery in California via a new tie-up with robotics outfit Kiwibot, Restaurant Business reports. Three Chick-fil-A locations around Santa Monica are making available delivery with Kiwibot's four-wheeled semi-autonomous rovers (like those seen above). 

An executive at Kiwibot told Restaurant Business a delivery would take 30 minutes and cost $1.99. 

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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