KFC rolls out self-driving food trucks in China and it's sort of wild

Contactless Kentucky Fried Chicken is totally a thing now.

Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski
2 min read
Neolix KFC food trucks

What a weird thing to see.


Some experts believe the self-driving cars are in for a boom, thanks to how the coronavirus pandemic has started to reshape how we purchase goods. When a top priority is to slow the spread of a contagious virus, having things delivered can help some people. Now take the driver out of the equation, for better or worse, and things are even simpler.

Well, that's what renowned fried chicken expert KFC did in China. Users on Twitter first spotted these self-driving food trucks of sorts in the country serving up contract-free fried chicken last week. These "restaurants on wheels" appear to be part of a partnership between a Chinese company called Neolix and Yum Brands, which owns KFC. Neither Yum nor Neolix immediately returned Roadshow's request for comment, but doing a little digging unearthed the connection.

Last month, Forbes reported that Neolix had started to work with Yum on driverless vehicles to serve food and specifically cited partnerships with KFC and Pizza Hut. It looks like the KFC trucks came first. Although we don't have proper confirmation, the vehicles look identical to other Neolix self-driving prototypes that serve other purposes locally, such as disinfecting areas due to the pandemic.

As for how the little food pods work, it looks like customers make a selection via screens and pay via a QR code and then a door opens to reveal their order. It's not clear what stops someone from taking more than what they ordered, but surely there's some sort of system for that. There isn't anyone inside preparing food as it happens.

It seems the spread of this sort of approach is inevitable, especially in a post-pandemic world. But whether the robo food trucks will catch on will ultimately be for the public to decide.

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