As one of the primary restaurant trendsetters, Chick-fil-A is testing autonomous delivery with Refraction AI at two restaurants in Austin, Texas, is certainly headline-generating news. Through the partnership, a fleet of self-driving robots in downtown Austin are delivering within a mile of each location.

Refraction AI’s robot-as-a-service platform combines self-driving technology, tele-operations and delivery robots that travel in the margins of the road or bike lanes to avoid the speed, distance and regulatory constraints of being on the sidewalk, without the safety, technology and cost challenges of full-size autonomous vehicles. The company claims it can complete last-mile deliveries with 90 percent lower carbon emissions and 80 percent less energy consumption while, critically, coming in at a fraction of the cost of conventional automotive deliveries.

“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.”

Refraction AI develops and operates last-mile, autonomous robot delivery systems for restaurant, grocery and retail customers. Looking for a way to realize the benefits of self-driving technology today, co-founders Matt Johnson-Roberson and Ram Vasudevan set their sights on last-mile delivery.

“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 CEO Luke 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.”

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.