Are Robot-Delivered Pizzas In Our Near Future?

Domino's will begin delivering pizzas with an occupant-less on-road vehicle in Houston this week.

April 12, 2021

Photo by: Photo courtesy of Domino's

Photo courtesy of Domino's

Dominos is gearing up to deliver food to customers in a whole new way. The pizza company announced today that it has teamed up with Nuro, the leading self-driving delivery company, to launch autonomous pizza delivery in Houston, Texas.

Beginning this week, select customers who place a prepaid order via Dominos.com on certain days and times can opt to have their pizza brought directly to their door by Nuro’s R2 robot. Only orders from Domino’s in Woodland Heights, located at 3209 Houston Ave., are eligible for this high-tech delivery, however.

Once the order is placed, customers who have been selected to receive an autonomous delivery will get text alerts, which will update them on R2’s location and provide them with a unique PIN to retrieve their order. Customers may also track the vehicle via GPS on their order confirmation page.

When R2 arrives, customers will be prompted to enter their PIN on the bot's touchscreen before the order is released. R2’s doors will then gently open upward, revealing the fresh Domino’s order.

Photo by: Photo courtesy of Domino's

Photo courtesy of Domino's

According to a press release, Nuro’s R2 is the first completely autonomous, occupant-less on-road delivery vehicle with regulatory approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“We’re excited to continue innovating the delivery experience for Domino’s customers by testing autonomous delivery with Nuro in Houston,” Dennis Maloney, Domino’s senior vice president and chief innovation officer, said in a statement. “There is still so much for our brand to learn about the autonomous delivery space.”

Though Domino’s hasn’t said if and when this autonomous delivery experience would be available in other locations, Maloney certainly hinted that other cities could soon follow Houston’s lead, following a test period. “This program will allow us to better understand how customers respond to the deliveries, how they interact with the robot and how it affects store operations,” he added. “The growing demand for great-tasting pizza creates the need for more deliveries, and we look forward to seeing how autonomous delivery can work along with Domino’s existing delivery experts to better support the customers’ needs.”

While autonomous cars delivering pizza to people’s doorsteps certainly sounds like something straight out of The Jetsons, it’s no longer quite as unheard of as one might think. In fact, in 2019 Pizza Hut teamed up with FedEx to create an autonomous delivery robot dubbed Roxo, the FedEx SameDay Bot. Roxo is equipped with turn signals, lights, and a signaling screen so it can clearly communicate with pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles, and is currently still in the testing phase.

Similarly, Amazon has an electric six-wheeled robot called Scout, which can deliver packages to Amazon Prime customers in certain parts of the country, and robots have been spotted bringing breakfast to college students in Arizona.

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