Car, meet drive-through

BMW is pushing fast-food innovation further

Cars and food go together. Always have. These days, researchers estimate that about 20 percent of meals are eaten behind the wheel. Drive-throughs have certainly made on-the-go meals even easier. And while innovations continue to speed the time from an order at the box to the hot food in hand, another innovation is poised to push fast food even faster.

BMW/Olo navigation system ordering

BMW and restaurant tech firm Olo have teamed up to allow U.S. drivers to order a preconfigured or previously ordered meal from Nektar Juice Bar or Portillo’s Hot Dogs. The navigation system then guides drivers to the nearest drive-through window. The trial is open to customers with 2015 or later BMW models. Participants can order and pay with a push of a button. (See a demo.)

Portillo’s, by the way, has partnered with Olo on other ways to make ordering easier. The integration allows customers to order directly from Google Search, Maps and Google Assistant.

It’s certainly a good use for all that time spent in traffic. But it is yet another way in which food is becoming something we don’t want to think about. Uber Eats is testing delivery via drone and at airport gates.

The BMW/Olo experiment is about so much more than food. What other opportunities should drivers have from behind the wheel? And what do drivers expect? With vehicle navigation systems becoming so much more ingrained in use, the connected car is just a step away. How will retailers be expected to respond?

BMW and Mercedes are testing a process to allow drivers to schedule a service appointment directly from the vehicle’s navigation system.

We may be a long way from vehicles communicating directly with each other. But we can wait. It will give us time to drink our juice and eat our hot dog.

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