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 delivery pizzas using self-driving robot cars. A limited number of customers ordering online from Domino's in Woodland Heights, located at 3209 Houston Ave., can choose to have their pizza delivered by Nuro's R2, which is the first completely autonomous on-road delivery vehicle with regulatory approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation to operate with no occupants inside.
Customers who want to dive headfirst into a future where everything is robotic and human interaction is minimized (sorry, been reading too many dystopian books lately), will have to prepay for their food online, choose the autonomous delivery option, then watch their text messages for updates on the robot's location. When it arrives, they will use a PIN to open the 'bot and retrieve their hot pie.
"There is still so much for our brand to learn about the autonomous delivery space," Dennis Maloney, Domino's senior vice president and chief innovation officer said in a statement. "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."
Following a small partnership with Ford for autonomous deliveries that required a human occupant in the pizza company's home in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Domino's and Nuro began working together in Houston in 2019 and had planned to begin robot deliveries within a few months. There's a solid chance the global pandemic is responsible for both the delay in getting the driverless service off the ground and in its eventual launch before everything is quite back to normal. In any case, we expect to see more of these autonomous delivery services pop up in the coming months and years.