A robotics startup called Zume Pizza, which is automating en route pizza production, has raised nearly $50 million in venture funding. Because if successful, it will change the way fast food operates by increasing speed and freshness while reducing a significant portion of labor costs. Food costs are going down, which is good news for fast food companies, but labor costs have been rising steadily. The cost of labor as a percentage of sales rose .8 percent in 2016, according to the consulting firm BDO. Since fast food relies on low-skill, repeatable tasks, it's the perfect use-case for automation.
"We've always said that it doesn't make sense to have a 2-tonne machine delivering a 2-kilogram order…drones allow us to extend [our] delivery area by removing barriers such as traffic and access [and] deliver further afield than we currently do to our rural customers while reaching our urban customers in a much more efficient time."
Those reindeer turned out to be a lot harder to train than Domino's had anticipated. The American pizza company announced on Thursday it was abandoning its plans to use reindeer to deliver pizzas in Japan for Christmas. Domino's had made a big announcement last week saying it was preparing a fleet of reindeer-pulled carriages to deliver pizzas over the holidays in wintry parts of Japan. But in its latest statement [Japanese], the company has had to backtrack on this promise, saying it was "difficult to control" the reindeer. It's even released a video showing its staff in Hokkaido scampering after a reindeer running zigzag away from them, as the delivery app tracking the reindeer shows a corresponding icon running wildly over the map.