Chick-fil-A deploys Refraction AI last-mile delivery service

refraction ai autonomous vehicle in front of achick-fil-a
Refraction AI is deploying a fleet of autonomous last-mile delivery vehicles in Austin TX | Credit: Refraction AI

Refraction AI offers an autonomous last-mile delivery solution for meal service and ecommerce delivery. The Ann Arbor based robotics company designs, builds and deploys the autonomous vehicles for clients in a number of US cities.

The company announced it has deployed a fleet of its self-driving vehicles to provide energy-efficient meal deliveries at two Chick-fil-A restaurants located in downtown Austin, Texas.

Refraction AI develops and operates last-mile, autonomous robot delivery systems for restaurant, grocery and retail customers, including both robot-as-a-service and delivery-as-a-service business models.

Looking for a way to realize the benefits of self-driving technology today, co-founders Matt Johnson-Roberson and Ram Vasudevan set their sights squarely on last-mile goods delivery.

Joined by transportation entrepreneur and CEO Luke Schneider, and an experienced leadership team, Refraction has developed an offering designed to affordably meet the surging demand for delivery in the restaurant, grocery and retail categories, while raising the bar for safety, quality and performance.


Restaurant patron habits changed during the pandemic, and many consumers discovered the advantages of online food order combined with home delivery. Fans of Chick-fil-A are especially loyal and fanatical consumers. Given the opportunity to continue enjoying some of their favorite food meant that many consumers started to use food delivery services during the height of the pandemic.

However, home food delivery adds more humans in the loop as food is packaged and handed off to the delivery driver, before ultimately being delivered to the patron.


Contactless delivery means there is zero physical interaction between a guest and a human being once your food leaves the restaurant – with Refraction AI, your delivery can be entirely robotic! That means your order isn’t changing hands any more times than absolutely necessary.

Refraction’s Robot-as-a-Service platform combines self-driving technology, tele-operations and a delivery robot that travels in the margin of the road or in a bike lane – avoiding the speed, distance and regulatory constraints of being on the sidewalk, without incurring the safety, technology and cost challenges of full-size autonomous vehicles. Using this approach Refraction is able to complete last-mile deliveries with 90% lower carbon emissions, 80% less energy consumption, at a fraction of the cost of conventional delivery.

Autonomous delivery using Refraction’s robots creates an exciting new opportunity to extend the Chick-fil-A experience to a growing number of delivery guests,” said Luke Steigmeyer, Operator of Chick-fil-A 6th & Congress. “The platform will allow us to provide fast, high quality, and cost-effective meal delivery within a mile radius of our restaurant all while helping to keep the community we serve environmentally clean and safe.”


“We are thrilled about working with Chick-fil-A, an organization that is admired and respected as much for its commitment to the communities it serves, as it is for the innovation and quality of its business,” said Schneider. “We are kindred spirits partnering with Chick-fil-A restaurants to demonstrate a smart, sensible approach to delivery that continues a tradition of surprising and delighting guests.”

Johnson-Roberson added, “Refraction AI was founded as a way to unlock the many benefits of affordable, sustainable delivery using autonomy technology that is available today. Scaling the last-mile – making it work for our communities, restaurants, grocers and retailers – is a key step in the journey to a safer, cleaner, brighter future.”

After initial testing at Chick-fil-A 6th & Congress, Chick-fil-A and Refraction AI plan to continue exploring autonomous delivery in Austin at the Chick-fil-A restaurant on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard beginning in late June.

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Written by

Mike Oitzman

Mike Oitzman is Senior Editor of WTWH's Robotics Group, cohost of The Robot Report Podcast, and founder of the Mobile Robot Guide. Oitzman is a robotics industry veteran with 25-plus years of experience at various high-tech companies in the roles of marketing, sales and product management. He can be reached at