If you live in Houston and order a pizza from Dominos, there’s a chance it could be delivered by a robot.
The pizza restaurant, built around a delivery business model, has teamed with Nuro, a maker of self-driving delivery vehicles, to begin autonomous pizza delivery this week from a Houston-area store.
A Domino’s location in Woodland Heights is the first to test the concept. When customers order a pizza, they can choose to have it delivered by Nuro’s R2 robot. According to Dominos, Nuro's R2 is the first completely autonomous, on-road delivery vehicle with regulatory approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT).
Select customers who use the website to place and pay for an order from the test location can agree to have their order delivered by R2. These customers will receive text alerts, which will update them on R2's location and provide them with a unique PIN to retrieve their order.
Customers getting a delivery from R2 may also track the vehicle using GPS on their order confirmation page. Once R2 arrives, customers will meet it at curbside and be prompted to enter their PIN on the bot's touchscreen. That will open the vehicle’s doors and the customer can retrieve their order.
"We're excited to continue innovating the delivery experience for Domino's customers by testing autonomous delivery with Nuro in Houston," said Dennis Maloney, Domino's senior vice president and chief innovation officer. "There is still so much for our brand to learn about the autonomous delivery space.”
Improving understanding of the delivery process
Maloney said the launch of the program will help the company form a better understanding of how customers respond to the deliveries, how they interact with the robot, and how it affects store operations.
Dave Ferguson, Nuro co-founder and president, is also interested in seeing how the experiment works out.
"Nuro's mission is to better everyday life through robotics. Now, for the first time, we're launching real world, autonomous deliveries with R2 and Domino's," he said.
The R2 is Nuro’s second-generation autonomous vehicle. It received USDOT approval in February 2020. The R2 was designed to carry products, not people, and to provide last-mile delivery service. Dominos is among the first companies to take it for a spin.