Domino’s To Deliver Pizzas via Robots Later This Year

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Joining a long list of companies that are pursuing autonomous delivery systems, Domino’s is planning to launch a trial run of robot deliveries later this year. The program will begin in Houston and will use delivery vehicles from Silicon Valley startup, Nuro.

Nuro’s vehicles have been picked up from other companies like grocery chain Kroger for similar use. Now, they’ll be carrying around piping hot pizzas to hungrily waiting customers. Domino’s will use this driverless fleet of custom-built cars to begin delivering to Houston residents who place orders online.

“Nuro’s vehicles are specially designed to optimize the food delivery experience, which makes them a valuable partner in our autonomous vehicle journey,” said Kevin Vasconi of Domino’s in a press release. “The opportunity to bring our customers the choice of an unmanned delivery experience, and our operators an additional delivery solution during a busy store rush, is an important part of our autonomous vehicle testing.”

Upon placing an order online, the Domino’s customer will be required to opt-in for autonomous delivery. Once accepted, the Domino’s app will allow customers to track the vehicle and unlock the sealed compartment containing their pizza using a unique pin code.

Nuro is using a custom-built vehicle called the R1, which is about half the length and width of a conventional car. The vehicle has no room for the driver, and since it is significantly lighter than other cars on the road, it reduces the risk of causing serious injuries if it were to be involved in an accident.

Since the R1 will be completing last-mile deliveries, it will stick to speeds of lower than 25 miles per hour. Since there is no need to worry about passenger comfort, the R1 can slam on the break if it encounters a situation it is unable to fully understand.

As the service continues to develop, Nuro will have each R1 delivery followed by a human-driven vehicle to monitor the situation and collect data on how the autonomous vehicle adapts to certain situations. Nuro hopes to stop utilizing a follow car sometime later this year, but for now, the practice continues. If this partnership with Domino’s is successful, the autonomous deliveries will expand to more markets across the U.S.

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