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Central Florida Restaurants Test Out a New Model for Food Delivery in the Age of Social Distancing

A Beep shuttle is parked at the Village Green in Lake Nona. Photo: Danielle Prieur
A Beep shuttle is parked at the Village Green in Lake Nona. Photo: Danielle Prieur

A fleet of autonomous shuttles in Orlando’s Lake Nona community is being put to new use during the pandemic. Restaurants are using the shuttles to deliver food. 

Chefs at Park Pizza & Brewing CO in Lake Nona prepared fresh pizzas which were delivered by Beep autonomous shuttles to doctors and nurses at the Orlando VA hospital

Jessi Blakley is the Vice President of Tavistock Restaurant Collection, the development group that owns the restaurant. 

Blakley says using the shuttles allows them to give back and test new ways to deliver food. 

“You know a good opportunity that’s come out of it, is that it’s really just shown how helpful they can be with food service with the delivery of supplies and with so many other things.”

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Blakley says the unmanned vehicles allowed them to maintain social distancing throughout the whole process from food prep to service.

“I think like everyone we want to do what’s right not just for our employees, but for the community as a whole. We’re on board with the idea that things are going to take place over time and certainly be phased in their approach.”

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The shuttles have been used to transfer coronavirus tests for processing at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. 

The autonomous shuttle service launched last September in Lake Nona. The shuttles stopped taking passengers in March because of the pandemic.

If you'd like to listen to the story, click on the clips above.

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter and fill-in host at WMFE.
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