Domino’s today announced the launch of its autonomous pizza delivery service done in partnership with self-driving delivery company Nuro. Starting this week, customers of the Woodland Heights Domino’s location in Houston, Texas can opt to have their pizza delivered by Nuro’s R2 robot.
The R2 is a low-speed, pod-like vehicle that’s about half the size of a regular car and completely autonomous. (There isn’t even room for a human being to sit in the vehicle.) Nuro got Federal permission in February of 2020 to start driving the R2 on public roads. In April of 2020, the state of California also gave Nuro the thumbs up to drive on its public roads.
For the Domino’s partnership, customers that order from the participating location via Domino’s digital properties can opt to get their order delivered by R2. As the vehicle makes its way along the route, customers receive alerts via texts. Once the ‘bot arrives, customers use a unique PIN to open R2’s doors and grab their order.
Autonomous delivery is currently only available on certain days and at certain times at the Woodland Heights location. Today’s press announcement did not mention if or when the pilot would expand to other Domino’s locations.
Domino’s and Nuro first started testing autonomous delivery in Houston back in 2019. The pandemic has since increased the need for more contactless forms of food delivery, making autonomous delivery vehicles an attractive option. Underscoring this, Nuro raised $500 million in November of last year. To date, the company has made deliveries for Kroger, CVS, and Walmart, in addition to Domino’s.
Domino’s, of course, is no stranger to bringing tech into the restaurant delivery process — something it was doing long before the existence of third-party delivery. The company said in today’s press release that the Houston program will help them better understand autonomous delivery’s impact on both operations at Domino’s and customer relationships.
If you are interested in the future of self-driving delivery vehicles, be sure to attend ArticulATE, our virtual food automation and robotics summit happening on May 18!