6 Franchises Making Our Lives Easier With Robots and Drones

From getting Slurpees delivered to our door to a robot bringing us water to our hotel room, here are six chains using technology to deliver better and faster service.

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By Rose Leadem


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It seems like every week there is a new company testing out drone or robotic technology. Chipotle recently tested drone burrito delivery, Amazon made headlines when it moved forward with testing drones in the U.K. (and blasting the FAA for being too slow) and Facebook said it was testing solar-powered drones for Internet connectivity. And franchises are getting in on this kind of technology, too.

From Pizza Hut to 7-Eleven, franchises are using these new technologies in their day-to-day operations. And while a bit scary, it makes sense for a lot of companies to integrate drones and robots into their growth strategies. They are often faster, smaller and more affordable than humans -- meaning they will have a tremendous impact on the way companies do business in the future.

Check out these six franchises using robots and drones to get ahead of the game.

SoftBank Robotic

Pizza Hut is looking to use robots to wait tables.

A robot named Pepper may soon be changing the pizza-ordering game.

Earlier this year, MasterCard announced it was teaming up with SoftBank Robotic, the company behind super cute robot Pepper, to roll out its “first commerce application.”

The guinea pig is Pizza Hut Asia. The company plans to use robots to take customer orders, provide nutritional information and accept payments.

Pepper will be making her debut before the end of the year.


Robots are delivering pizzas to Domino’s customers.

Pizza Hut isn’t the only fast-food pizzeria thinking outside the box.

Working with government authorities to roll out its own robotics unit, Domino’s has created a pizza-delivery robots called DRU (Domino’s Robotic Unit). The franchise has tested out a number of customers deliveries with DRU in New Zealand.

The driverless four-wheeled robot has heated compartments that can hold up to 10 pizza and another compartment to keep drinks cold. It can reportedly travel just over 12 miles before it needs to recharge.


7-Eleven customers will have Slurpees delivered to their doors by drone.

Soon enough you’ll be able to get a Slurpee dropped off right outside your door.

Teaming up with drone startup, Flirtey, 7-Eleven is planning to roll out FAA-approved drone deliveries. In fact, on July 11 the franchise successfully drone-delivered a chicken sandwich, donuts, coffee, candy and Slurpees to a private home in Reno, Nev. -- a mile away from a franchise location.


Crowne Plaza uses a robot to deliver room service.

The Crowne Plaza in San Jose-Silicon Valley -- a hotel chain run by the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) -- added a new employee to its hotel staff. Created by robotics company Savioke, a 3-feet-tall, 100-pound robot named Dash delivers room service to guests at the hotel.

Guests just need to request something by phone and the hotel employee will grab the items and send Dash up with them. After complete, Dash heads back to the docking station, waiting for its next order.

KFC via Digital Trends

KFC opened a human-free restaurant in Shanghai.

This summer, KFC opened the world’s first human-free fast food restaurant in Shanghai, reported Digital Trends.

In partnership with Chinese search engine, Baidu, the new franchise is unlike any KFC seen before. The automated store is named “Original +” and designed in traditional Chinese style -- with bamboo, flowers and jade accents.

Small, pear-shaped robots named Dumi are cordial and inviting, taking orders and processing payments.


Hilton Hotel has a robot named Connie as a concierge.

In collaboration with IBM, Hilton Worldwide released its Watson-powered robot concierge “Connie,” which is currently stationed at the Hilton in McLean, Va.  

Working with Hilton team members, Connie assists with visitor requests, personalizes guest experiences and provides travel information to customers. Connie draws from a domain of knowledge from WayBlazer -- an artificial intelligence agency specific to the hospitality and travel industry.

Rose Leadem
Rose Leadem is a freelance writer for Entrepreneur.com. 

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