Skip navigation
Tech Tracker

Tech Tracker: Why human-free technology is taking over the restaurant industry

From drive-thru AI at Checkers to contactless dine-in options at Panera Bread and more, NRN editors discuss the latest in technology trends


Even as the pandemic slows down toward the end of its second year, consumers are still interested in more digital convenience technologies. Many of these technologies use AI, automation, or simply new app features to eliminate the need for face-to-face contact.

For example, Panera Bread just introduced contactless dine-in for guests, which will let customers order their food via the Panera app either when they arrive in the restaurant or are on their way, and will receive an email, text, and/or push notification when their food is ready at the counter – no interaction with employees behind the counter needed.

In a similar vein, Checkers Drive-In just announced a partnership with Presto to introduce AI at the drive-thru lane, which would improve order accuracy and upsells, leaving the human Checkers employees to worry about other tasks than taking drive-thru orders.

Could the need for digital technologies lead to an entirely virtual reality restaurant? That might be possible with tech solutions platform Lunchbox, now that the startup announced a $50 million series B funding, with investors including executives from DoorDash, Sweetgreen and &pizza.


Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.