When you take a flight at any airport, one of the most important parts of the traveling experience is the rapid, seamless handling of luggage. Dallas Fort Worth International Airport recently announced that it is testing innovative robotic technology to help its customers get their bags with as little hassle as possible.
DFW Airport said it will use the Netherlands-based Vanderlande’s autonomous vehicle solution, FLEET, in the recheck area in Terminal D. It’s a first-of-its kind robotic system that can handle almost 450 bags an hour, and it’s being tested with transfer passengers who arrive from international flights and connect through DFW.
“DFW is testing the process to see how we might provide our customers with a more seamless journey using the award-winning technology within our current baggage infrastructure, and integrating automation for efficiency,” Khaled Naja, DFW’s executive vice president of Infrastructure and Development, said in a statement. “As we go through the pilot program, DFW will evaluate this new technology and assess potential applications of robots and autonomous vehicles at different points within the Airport.”
The airport said customers participating in the pilot program will use one of four self-bag drop units and identify the airline for their connecting flight using the touch screen. During the transfer, each FLEET vehicle will transport one piece of luggage, transferring the passenger’s bag to the appropriate baggage belt.
DFW Airport and Vanderlande are piloting a robotic luggage transfer system at the airport. [Photo: Courtesy Dallas Fort Worth International Airport]
Dallas Fort Worth Airport grows with new technologies
“This particular application is both exciting and challenging for us, because FLEET will be working in a passenger area,” Andrew Manship, Vanderlande’s executive vice president of airports, said in a statement. “Vanderlande believes FLEET aligns with the airport’s vision, because they have a strong commitment to improving the passenger experience, as well as showcasing the latest innovations.”
As one of the world’s busiest airports, efficient transfer of luggage at DFW is critical–more than 69 million customers go through its gates every year. The airport handles flights from 182 domestic and 62 international nonstop destinations worldwide every day.
Vanderlande, acquired in 2017 by Toyota Industries Corp., is a global leader for value-added logistic process automation at airports, as well as the parcel market.
The robot baggage transfer system is the most recent innovative venture for the nearly 50-year-old airport, which announced earlier this year that it plans to construct a sixth terminal (Terminal F) and undertake a $3-$3.5 billion renovation of Terminal C by 2025.
DFW Airport’s new chief innovation officer, Paul Puopolo, is propelling its future by welcoming new strategies to make the airport better.
“The technology that can be applied to the city can be applied at the airport,” because for Puopolo, innovation is “not just about coming up with some cool things. It has to be things that solve a problem and have a business model around them.”
“There’s a lot of things I think DFW [Airport] represents, much like a city… We had the same challenges, the same issues, the same thing as we’re trying to solve,” Puopolo told Dallas Innovates.
CEO says that evolution is critical for the airport’s future
The airport already has deployed such technologies as dynamic glass windows, which use IoT tech to control room temperature and brightness, display messages, and monitor for break-ins.
Evolution of the airport is important and will pay dividends, CEO Sean Donohue said in May.
“A couple of early innovative projects are paying dividends for our customers,” Donohue said. “We have installed dynamic glass in Terminal A. This technology automatically tints windows, reducing heating, saving air conditioning loads, and creating more comfortable gate rooms for our passengers.”
Vanderlande’s baggage handling systems move 4.2 billion pieces of luggage per year worldwide—that’s 11.5 million bags per day.
Its systems are active in 600 airports including 14 of the world’s top 20.
Dallas Fort Worth International (DFW) Airport is testing Vanderlande’s autonomous vehicle solution FLEET to transfer bags and improve the experience for passengers.
The robotic system, which is being tested in the recheck area in Terminal D, can handle about 450 bags per hour.
It is being tested with transfer passengers who arrive from international flights and connect through DFW.
Customers who take part in the pilot programme will utilise one of four self-bag-drop units, and identify the airline for their connecting flight using a touch screen.
An individual piece of luggage will then be transferred by each FLEET vehicle, taking the passenger’s bag to the appropriate baggage belt.
DFW executive vice-president of infrastructure and development Khaled Naja said: “DFW is testing the process to see how we might provide our customers with a more seamless journey using the award-winning technology within our current baggage infrastructure, and integrating automation for efficiency.
“As we go through the pilot programme, DFW will evaluate this new technology and assess potential applications of robots and autonomous vehicles at different points within the airport.”
DFW recently introduced TSA Security wait times on the DFW Mobile App. The new feature displays real-time wait time data for all of the airport’s 15 checkpoints.
DFW Airport warmly welcomes over 69 million customers along their journey every year. Customers can select from 182 domestic and 62 international non-stop destinations.
Vanderlande’s baggage handling systems move 4.2 billion pieces of luggage across the world annually.
The company’s systems, which sort over 45 million parcels, are active in 600 airports including 14 of the world’s top 20.
In May 2019, Vanderlande secured a contract to implement a significant upgrade to the baggage handling system at Brussels Airport.
Vanderlande said the contract forms an important part of a 20-year framework agreement signed with the Brussels Airport Company (BAC) in March 2019.
Airbus’ Vahana is a small, passenger-carrying electric, autonomous vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) craft, and the company showed a video of the plane in flight during the show, along with a model of the plane.
Veering more toward the electric side of things, Eviation’s Alice prototype was on display. The all-electric plane is supposed to start production in the U.S. by the end of 2019 and is expected to begin carrying passengers in 2022. It can hold nine passengers and go up to 650 miles. The propulsion system powering the passenger plane is from magniX, whose motor was on display at the show along with other electric manufacturers’.
eering more toward the electric side of things, Eviation’s Alice prototype was on display. The all-electric plane is supposed to start production in the U.S. by the end of 2019 and is expected to begin carrying passengers in 2022. It can hold nine passengers and go up to 650 miles. The propulsion system powering the passenger plane is from magniX, whose motor was on display at the show along with other electric manufacturers’.
Often called flying cars or taxis, eVTOLs are what Uber plans to fly for its aerial taxi service dubbed Uber Air, first taking off in Dallas, Los Angeles, and Melbourne in the coming years.
Even United is looking into a hybrid electric craft in the next few years with its Project 804, CNBC reported from the air show.
Air China gets a foothold at Daxing International Airport to escalate competition with China Eastern and China Southern
Intensive lobbying, high-level horse trading and political manoeuvring are dominating a drama which will help define the future of China’s airline market
A view of Beijing’s new Daxing International Airport under construction in Daxing district, Beijing on April 25, 2019. Daxing International Airport will open at the end of September this year. Photo: Simon Song
China’s big three state-owned airlines are engaged in a tussle for the rights to fly into and out of the new mega airport in Beijing, which will be among the world’s biggest when it opens in September.
Intensive lobbying, high-level horse trading and political manoeuvring are dominating a drama which will help define the future of the world’s biggest airline market.The three state-owned airlines are scrapping it out for landing slots at Beijing Daxing International Airport, in an episode of palace intrigue which offers a rare glimpse into how politics, state directives and market competition are often woven together in the Chinese economy.
Between them, Air China, China Eastern and China Southern Airlines hold two-thirds of China’s civil aviation market. They are vying for premium slots at Daxing, which will launch on September 30.
An aerial view of Beijing Daxing International Airport under construction in Beijing. The airport, which is expected to open in September 2019, will be one of the world’s largest airports when it is completed, and authorities hope it will relieve congestion at Beijing’s two existing commercial airports. Photo: APShare:A plan published by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) in January showed that China Eastern and China Southern would relocate their flights to the new airport, an 80 billion yuan (US$11.9 billion) mega facility with seven runways.
Each would be given 40 per cent of Daxing’s air traffic resources, while Air China would remain at the old Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA), which is in a northeastern suburb of Beijing and which is currently the country’s busiest airport, serving 101 million passengers last year.
Travelers prefer human touch to automation at airport, according to new OAG analysis
OAG, the world’s leading provider of travel data and insight, today reveals its latest tech market analysis, The Airport Delight Report: Humans vs. Machines. Based on a survey of over 2,000 U.S. travelers, OAG offers new insight for airport leaders and tech providers looking to delight travelers, streamline operations and grow revenue.
The major takeaway: While high tech investments and automation improve the airport experience, they aren’t a cure-all. In fact, outside of ticketing and check-in, the market prefers human customer service over automation for almost every other travel function: baggage (54% human to 46% automated customer service), security (55% to 45%), boarding (64% to 36%), concierge (83% to 17%) and in-flight services (80% to 20%).
Additional takeaways from OAG’s analysis include:
— Travelers don’t mind being tracked – if it leads to a better experience: Nearly 60% of travelers would let airports track their location through a mobile or wearable device to redeploy staff to cut down on wait times.
— Forget robots. Practicality trumps flash: Only 19% of travelers said they see value in interactive robots that provide information and concierge services. Comparatively, 40% want more baggage loading zones to expedite security lines, 54% would value in-airport, turn-by-turn directions for navigating terminals and gates, and 75% want real-time updates on expected boarding times.
— Momentum builds for automated airport retail: 54% of millennials, 37% of business travelers and 35% of all travelers reported interest in self-checkout retail options at the airport.
“We’re seeing that the market isn’t quite ready for a full-fledged automated airport experience – although we expect that evolve over time, with tech eventually becoming the clear preference,” said Vipul Nakum, chief product officer at OAG. “While investing in emerging technology is smart, travel leaders need to remember the easy and simple wins, like consistent flight status updates, text message alerts before boarding, more baggage loading zones, and in-airport directions and GPS. These simple improvements reduce friction and delight passengers.”
OAG also evaluated sentiment around two untapped airport revenue opportunities: on-demand, gate-side delivery and pre-ordering through mobile. OAG found that while only 6% of travelers have pre-ordered food or drink for pickup at a gate-side restaurant, 66% would consider taking advantage in the future. Similarly, while only 9% of travelers have ordered gate-side delivery of food and drink, 62% are willing to try it out.
“The easiest way to delight travelers – and get them to spend more gate-side — is through convenience and information,” added Nakum. “Travelers that feel truly informed, with consistent updates across all channels, are more comfortable and confident venturing away from the gate to patronize restaurants, retail stores and bars. For travel leaders looking to capitalize, the more proactive and prescriptive they can be with their updates – ‘Group A is boarding in 15 minutes, Group B in 30 minutes, last call in 40 minutes,’ the more valuable.”
Istanbul is now home to an aviation super force which is set to become the largest airport in the world. Zoe Mutter visited the new travel hub to examine how technology is being integrated on an epic scale to improve the passenger experience.
A new aviation megastructure has been unveiled in Turkey, powered by audio visual solutions. Boasting a 1.4 million square metre main terminal building, two runways, an air traffic control tower, support buildings and a 53,000 square metre duty-free zone, the new Istanbul Airport is a construction triumph as well as a masterpiece of architectural design and technological integration. A selection of the technical partners helping create the landmark project were based in Turkey, including Vestel, the multi-industry manufacturer which provided and installed 3,150 displays across the site.
The airport was officially opened by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in early April, at a high-profile ceremony celebrating the completion of the project’s first phase and marking 42 months of extensive planning, construction and integration carried out by a skilled team of 200,000. AV Magazine visited the facility soon after the opening ceremony to talk to the team behind one of the of the largest aviation projects in history and to experience first-hand the travel hub which is now capable of serving 90 million passengers a year.
The project – which began in 2015 – forms part of wider development plans for Istanbul which include the construction of a third bridge across the Bosphorus waterway in 2016 and plans to create a large canal. With three more phases of the monumental airport development still to come, its growth is set to continue further. In 2027, when the facility is completed, it will claim the title of the world’s biggest airport, spread across 76.5 million square metres and serving 200 million passengers a year from four terminals and six runways.
A technologically advanced passenger journey Embarking on constructing the colossal travel hub from scratch was a hefty but necessary task. After 86 years of operation, Atatürk Airport, located 30km away, could no longer cope with the volume of passengers passing through. Replacing Atatürk with a new technologically advanced airport with all facilities located under one roof would deliver improved global connectivity and make transfers easier leading to a more seamless passenger experience.
Whilst putting Turkey on the map as a prime location and a passenger terminal where East meets West, the facility will accommodate Turkish Airlines’ growth plans and be used as a hub by new longer-range aircraft such as the Airbus 350 XWB and the Boeing 777.
At the beginning of April, ahead of the big reveal, the complex logistical task of transferring the complete operation across from Atatürk was carried out. More than 10,000 pieces of equipment were moved to the new Istanbul Airport in an astonishing 45 hours, allowing Turkish Airlines flights to arrive and depart from the new hub a mere two days after the switchover began. But prior to this huge undertaking, extensive installation processes were taking place behind the scenes at the Istanbul Airport site.
Turkey’s mega project Aside from admiring the spectacular design of the facility’s interior, passengers can now enjoy a technologically advanced experience as they make their way from check-in, through security and on to duty free. Audiovisual systems play a significant part in the travel, shopping and dining experience alongside emerging innovations such as robots, artificial intelligence, facial recognition and beacon technology.
Display technology is essential in informing passengers and enhancing their journey through the airport. Following an in-depth tender and purchasing process back in 2015 the technical team at iGA Systems – which was founded in 2018 to handle the ICT infrastructure, aviation systems design and implementation for Istanbul Airport – selected a total of 1,300, 49-inch and 1,850 55-inch Vestel displays to present a variety of information and advertising content throughout the luggage area, departure and arrival lounges, check-in desks and security gates. iGA Systems worked closely with hand-picked partners such as Vestel to deliver the required technological solutions for each area of the facilities.
Prior to experiencing the newly opened airport, we visited Vestel’s enormous factory away in Manisa, Turkey, to see the R&D department at the heart of the 1.1 million square metre Vestel City in action. During the tour Atinc Ogut, product manager, visual solutions, Vestel provided some insight into the steps required to complete the mammoth transport installation: “It was a tough challenge because it is one of the most prestigious aviation projects in the world, especially as it was constructed from scratch rather than being part of an expansion.”
During the tender process each company putting their products forward for consideration supplied a sample unit which was tested for three months in the airport environment to see if it was compatible with the software and how quickly it responded to flight information changes. “The cosmetic look and feel, picture quality, brightness and colour were also assessed,” adds Ogut. “It was an important part of the overall project so I went to the construction site more than 10 times to talk with clients, run workshops throughout the tender process and assist during the purchasing.”
The airport team had specific requests in terms of the size of displays and required a mixture of 49-inch and 55-inch screens. Brightness level was also key as the screens would be located in all-glass areas and they needed a surface treatment to cope with reflections to ensure flight information was clearly visible. Due to the amount of dust in the luggage area dust-proof casing was a necessity to protect the displays from the small particles in that environment. Therefore, Vestel developed bespoke IP51 casings for 200 of the screens to be placed inside.
A slim design was a prerequisite for all screens but in certain areas they needed to sit flush against the wall to fit in with the designer’s vision: “Due to the preference of the architects we required some unconventional installations, some of which included displays hidden in the walls, especially in the control centres,” says Volkan Gungor, aviation systems manager, iGA Systems. “Vestel created a new tailor-made slim design to suit.”
To display the flight information Vestel built a PC module into the screens and worked with software provider IKUSI to develop bespoke flight information software. “The software receives the raw data and translates it into a usable format that can be displayed in the airport, updating in real time,” explains Ogut. “This is all managed centrally 24/7 by IKUSI across more than 3,150 screens.”
“Normally you don’t see this kind of high-end PC as an OPS device – the products we are using here are very high performance,” adds Gungor. “At the moment we are only using 20 per cent of the PC’s capabilities so I don’t think we will need to change them for five or six years. And thanks to the OPS technology, if it requires higher performance we can swap the PC with a more advanced model and still use the same monitors.”
Installation of the fleet of screens was completed by a 15-strong team from Vestel and four of their specialists were on site to offer after sales support and maintenance. “It was a gradual process that lasted a year and a half,” says Ogut. “Some parts of the airport were constructed and then we installed some of the screens. Protecting the products across the huge site over this period of time was a challenge.”
Gungor agrees the project’s size placed additional pressure on the team: “When working at this scale it’s not always possible to complete every part of the project according exactly to the initial plan so we needed partners that were flexible.
“The environment during construction was also quite rough for indoor electronic devices to cope with so I was impressed by the Vestel monitors’ performance – I don’t think all brands could withstand those conditions. There was lots of dust and the building was warmer than the operating temperature as the HVAC system was not working in some parts of the building in the early stages, but the screens still survived.”
The greatest challenge was the sheer quantity of screens being deployed, adds Gungor: “You need to be able to trust the technology you use in the terminal. There is a basic saying in Turkish: ‘you should mount it and forget about it,” and that was one reason we opted to use Vestel products. Based on the requirements I expect we will install a further 35 per cent additional screens in the following phases of the development.”
The airport’s control centres also feature Vestel solutions including similar displays to the flight information screens and seven videowalls made up of around 150, 55-inch displays. Elsewhere, the aviation tower is equipped with Vestel videowalls delivering real time video from multiple cameras positioned around the airport.
Designing a high-flying aesthetic facility Although technology is at the heart of the ambitious project the stunning facility boasts an aesthetic splendour produced by Pininfarina, the Italian design firm renowned for creating designs for Ferrari, and US design company, AECOM. Their creative vision has resulted in an extraordinary, modern and almost futuristic aviation space. The height of the space and abundance of natural light shining through the grand ceiling arches makes an immediate impression on passengers upon entering the terminal. Selected for their experience in lighting and daylight design, Hoare Lea and lighting designer Juan Ferrari worked with the architects and interior designers to create a lighting solution that was sympathetic to the scale and unique design, which is accentuated by skylights and a vaulted ceiling featuring geometric shapes.
“Given the scale of the airport, we knew that we needed monitors that would be clear and easy to read from greater distances. The bright Istanbul sunshine in the all-glass terminals make this even more of a challenge which is why the choice of displays needed to be carefully considered,” says Gungor.
“Atatürk Airport was also restrictive, the ceiling was not very high and it was congested. Although more passengers are passing through the new airport now the design and size of the building creates a greater feeling of space. The height of this building is impressive – we call the people that worked on its construction mountaineers.”
The single terminal airport is also home to a seven-section 53,000 square metre duty free zone, the design of which was inspired by the Bosphorus strait. Meanwhile, the look of the air traffic control tower – another hub of innovation – was inspired by Istanbul’s national symbol, the tulip. The 90-metre-tall tower was also designed by Pininfarina and AECOM.
Elevating the aviation industry Having undertaken the design, installation, integration, and implementation of technology at the airport, the 780-strong team at iGA Systems is now responsible for the five main systems – infrastructure, security, aviation, business operations and software development, using national systems developed by domestic engineers.
H. Kadri Samsunlu, chief executive officer and general manager of İGA Airport Operation, believes İstanbul Airport will serve as a technology base, become one of the smartest airports in the world and a major incubation centre for the aviation industry. “Our ultimate aim is to transfer the technological experience created at the Istanbul Airport to other airports that will be built in the country and the region thanks to Turkey’s growth thrust, to nationalise technology and boost technology exports. In addition to that, we want to build and operate smart building systems in Turkey and across the region,” he said.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) 20-year passenger forecast report shows four billion people travelled in 2017 and the number is expected to double in 2036, reaching 7.8 billion. According to Samsunlu, this projection is testament to the need for larger airports, comprising more modern structures that are capable of offering the latest technology services.
Ersin İnankul, general manager and CIO, İGA Systems is confident his team can become the world’s largest company to offer airport services of this scale: “We have developed a range of software for the Istanbul Airport, from mobile applications to boost passenger satisfaction and airport security systems to an airline messaging platform and a joint decision-making system. We are also working on systems such as the first airport data centre in the world, the first virtual tower application in Turkey, domestic robots and unmanned passenger transfer vehicles. The domestic and national technologies we develop here will set an example for all airports in the world.”
“The robots are compatible with our displays and can show flight information or where a check in point is, offering a multi-faceted way-finding solution. The advanced infrastructure at the airport allows the systems to work together,” adds Vestel’s Ogut.
Gungor adds: “At the terminal entrance level there are management screens which monitor the queues on the X-ray control points. AI logic is working within the system too alongside human intervention and based on the outputs the cameras gather from the queues we have constant control accuracy.”
When the building gets bigger there is more chance passengers might get lost so iGA Systems offers a mobile app equipped with a location finder. “Aside from that we plan to use beacon technology around the terminal. You can also use a mobile application and RFID NFC scanner to scan a barcode to display information such as nearby shops.”
With the completion of the first phase alone the airport is home to three data centres, 102 integrated systems, 467 servers, 780 telecommunication rooms, 3,267 flight information display systems, 4,549 computers and 9,000 security cameras. Its fibre optic wiring is 1,700km long while the copper wiring is 4,500km – the distance between Istanbul and New Delhi. As further phases are completed the project will continue to excel as a technological landmark for Turkey and help elevate aviation innovation on a global scale.
Dallas Fort Worth International (DFW) Airport today launched Vanderlande’s autonomous vehicle solution FLEET to help passengers in the recheck area in Terminal D with more seamless transfers of their luggage. The airport said the first-of-its-kind robotic system can handle nearly 450 bags per hour, and will test the system with transfer passengers who arrive from international flights and connect through DFW.
Customers who participate in the pilot program will use one of four self-bag drop units, and identify the airline for their connecting flight using a touch screen. Each FLEET vehicle will then transport an individual piece of luggage, transferring the passenger’s bag to the appropriate baggage belt.
“DFW is testing the process to see how we might provide our customers with a more seamless journey using the award-winning technology within our current baggage infrastructure, and integrating automation for efficiency,” said Khaled Naja, executive vice president of infrastructure and development at DFW. “As we go through the pilot program, DFW will evaluate this new technology and assess potential applications of robots and autonomous vehicles at different points within the airport.
Automating bag transfers
The FLEET will be working in a passenger bag recheck area area, which is different from other robotic baggage systems, which work behind the scenes. “Vanderlande believes FLEET aligns with the airport’s vision, because they have a strong commitment to improving the passenger experience, as well as showcasing the latest innovations,” said Andrew Manship, Vanderlande‘s executive vice president for airports.
The DFW airport serves more than 69 million people along their journey every year, with 182 domestic and 62 international nonstop destinations worldwide. Vanderlande develops value-added logistic process automation at airports, as well as the parcel market. The company’s baggage handling systems move 4.2 billion pieces of luggage around the world per year, or 11.5 million bags per day. Its systems are active in 600 airports, including 14 of the world’s top 20 airports.RBR Insiders can get actionable intelligence to help their organizations develop, evaluate, or use automation. By subscribing, RBR Insiders get exclusive access to all of Robotics Business Review‘s reports, webcasts, and databases, which provide insights into emerging technologies worldwide. Become an RBR INSIDER today!
Airports are providing luxury brands with access to consumers with extra time on their hands who want to buy unique and unusual items they can’t find near their residences. These hubs for travel retail, which are providing an audience of on-the-go travelers as U.S. shopping malls are on the decline, are also becoming locations where brands are innovating with products.
Edgar Huber, who heads the luxury division of multinational beauty company Coty Inc., said in The Wall Street Journal, “It’s not about discounting now; it’s really about experience.” The report noted that the firm’s pharmacy brands like Clairol and CoverGirl have grappled with declining sales. However, the company’s luxury unit is continually on the uptick — and travel retail is said to be partly responsible. In one case, the company rolled out a Gucci lipstick line at airports that encompassed a Goldie Red — it retails on the web for $38. And consumers at airports do make an attractive customer base as they have extra time that lets them stay in stores longer.
Luxury brands are looking to catch the attention of travelers who might be willing to explore new products. Bacardi Managing Director of Global Travel Retail Vinay Golikeri said, according to the outlet, “Over half of the people, when they travel and browse stores, they’re looking for something they can’t find back home.” Bacardi, for instance, launched an Aultmore Scotch whiskey three-part series at the United Kingdom’s Heathrow Airport and sold the bottles for $400 each. As it turned out, the brand discovered that many customers were actually purchasing all of the bottles for $1,200.
Consumers wait just over an hour — or 72 minutes — passing the time from security to the flight during a so-called “golden hour.” And travelers are working high-end shopping trips into their travels by purportedly gearing their layovers toward luxury shopping. At the same time, research firm Data Circle found that duty-free and other travel-retail channels saw global sales increase by roughly 9.3 percent to attain $76 billion last year. That figure marked a rise from $69 billion two years ago. Travel retail is said to encompass more than only airport shops: it also includes eCommerce orders that consumers pick up at the airport and in-flight purchases, among other categories.
Through product innovation at the airport, luxury brands are aiming to reach on-the-go travelers who have the time — and the desire — to try something new on the way to their destinations.
In Other Brick-and-Mortar News
Lululemon has quietly closed its men’s standalone stores in Toronto and New York City even as the company still intends to more than double its men’s business in the next five years. The retailer found customers respond to the company better “as a dual-gender brand,” spokeswoman Erin Hankinson said per reports. “We continually test and learn at Lululemon — which is what we did with the men’s stores.”
Toronto’s small-format men’s location — called “The Local” — opened in December 2016 and closed last year as revealed by Hankinson. The New York City Soho men’s store, which opened in 2014, was consolidated into a nearby larger format location. For now, the company is focused on expanding its more productive stores, which Hankinson said, “will continue to create space for category expansions and will help to grow our business, specifically in men’s.”
In other news, Domino’s Pizza and robotics company Nuro are working to use a custom unmanned vehicle to bring autonomous pizza delivery to Houston. The company said in an announcement that the fleet from Nuro will serve some customers in Houston who make online orders. Diners can track the vehicle through the app of the company and will get a unique PIN code to unlock a compartment and retrieve their pizzas
“We are always looking for new ways to innovate and evolve the delivery experience for our customers,” Domino’s Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer Kevin Vasconi said in the announcement. “Nuro’s vehicles are specially designed to optimize the food delivery experience, which makes them a valuable partner in our autonomous vehicle journey.”
And Panera Bread has been piloting a menu for dinner at a Jacksonville, Florida restaurant in an effort that could bring delivery opportunities. The quick-service restaurant (QSR) is extending the test in July to nine Kentucky locations. Dinner is a popular time for delivery orders, and the chain taps into its own delivery drivers in place of teaming with another company.
Panera Chief Growth and Strategy Officer Dan Wegiel said, according to reports, “We definitely saw for delivery an opportunity with dinner, but it flagged as something we could unlock further for sure.” As many diners view Panera’s salads, soups and sandwiches as items that are too light for a dinner meal, the QSR company added options that would be available following 4:30 p.m. that are heartier like flatbread pizzas and bowls.
To keep tabs on the latest retail trends, check next week’s Retail Pulse.