Domino’s, the largest pizza chain in the world (based on global sales), and autonomous vehicle startup Nuro have partnered to launch a pilot program in Houston to deliver pizza with self-driving robotic cars. A limited number of customers who order online from Domino’s in Woodland Heights, located at 3209 Houston Ave., can choose to have their pizza delivered by Nuro’s R2, the first fully autonomous road delivery vehicle legally approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation to operate without occupants.
Customers who want to dive into a future where everything is robotic and human interaction is kept to a minimum (sorry, I’ve read too many dystopian books lately) should pay for their food online in advance, choose the autonomous delivery option, then check their text messages for updates on the robot’s location. When it arrives, they use a PIN to open the ‘bot’ and retrieve their hot pie.
“There is still so much to learn for our brand about the autonomous delivery space,” Dennis Maloney, Domino’s senior vice president and chief innovation officer said in a statement. “With this program, we can better understand how customers respond to deliveries, how they interact with the robot and how it affects store operations.”
After a small partnership with Ford for autonomous deliveries that required a human resident at the pizza company’s home in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Domino’s and Nuro began partnering in Houston in 2019 and planned to start robotic deliveries within a few months to start. Chances are, the global pandemic is responsible for both the delay in getting the self-driving service off the ground and the eventual launch before things get back to normal. In any case, we expect to see more of these autonomous delivery services popping up in the coming months and years.