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Did anyone see that new Domino’s commercial? The one with the self-driving pizza delivery van?! Like – whaaaaat? That got me psyched, I don’t know about anyone else, but that’s straight out of Black Mirror, the Netflix TV anthology, and we were all kind of waiting for this to happen. After the ABC Google Waymo self-driving project got certified for public transportation and became the Waymo One robotaxi, many startups have popped up, working on their own tech, and many companies are buying in from various industries. With purpose-built vehicles (PBVs) also on the rise for things like shopping and delivery, an automated van that keeps the pizza hot and drives itself to the customer is one for the history book.
This has been accomplished by a joint-venture by Domino’s Pizza and Nuro. Nuro is the robotics company behind an all-electric self-driving vehicle used as a delivery service by many brands, including Kroger, Walmart, Chipotle, CVS Pharmacy, and yes, now Domino’s. Each vehicle is built and designed to carry goods. Not only does this make it a purpose-built vehicle, but those at Nuro designed the vehicle with outside variables in mind. What if someone crosses the road out in front of the vehicle? A sudden stop could hurt the passengers inside, but if it’s just cargo, messy groceries are better than a medical bill and a lawsuit. Oh, and Nuro says if we’re talking pizza, another one will be sent without delay. So, there must be some sort of sensor that detects abnormal driving like a sudden stop and whether cargo has been affected.
The model being used by so many brands for healthy groceries, prescription drugs, and hot foods is the R2. This is the same model Domino’s is currently utilizing as well, and a first for the company. Delivering hot food is different from groceries and other items in boxes, but in a thriving market where food delivery is quickly competing with Uber and Lyft for transportation of people with the transportation of food, Domino’s wants to be the first quick-service restaurant company in the U.S. to launch autonomous pizza delivery. It sure puts the spotlight on them – even if you’re not crazy about the pizza, who wouldn’t want to see a robotic car drive up and wait for them to put in a code and take their pizza from the assumedly warm temperature-controlled cabin?
Domino’s has also made it really easy to use this new service. On the new website for the nuro delivery service, consumers can choose to opt in for Nuro’s R2 delivery at checkout (assumedly online, but maybe over the phone too). When the Nuro R2 arrives, Domino’s will text the consumer a pin code. Meet the robot out front, put in the pin, and one of the two doors will open, as in the image above (watch your head). Grab your items and you’re good to go.
The catch as always, is that this is currently only being tested in Houston, Texas with limited availability on select days and times, from a single store. No information about planned expansion just yet, and we’re waiting on the Waymo to run a test on the Miami highways. Still, this is all very cool, and you can stay up to date with technology tidbits like this when you follow us on NowCar social media.