Domino’s Uses Nuro Vehicles for Autonomous Delivery in Houston
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STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Getting your pizza delivered by a robot might sound like science fiction, but that’s exactly what’s happening in a small part of Houston.
Domino’s, the world’s largest pizza company, on April 12 began offering autonomous pizza delivery services to select customers in Houston through a partnership with self-driving delivery vehicle company Nuro.
“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.
Houston, we have a robot.
And that robot is named R2 by @nurobots: a self-driving, pizza-delivering vehicle.
And we’re testing it out in Houston, TX.
Welcome to the future of pizza delivery. pic.twitter.com/dxGmC5jHwe — Domino's Pizza (@dominos) April 12, 2021
“There is still so much for our brand to learn about the autonomous delivery space. 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,” Maloney added.
The pizza will be delivered by Nuro’s R2 vehicle, the first fully autonomous, driverless delivery vehicle to receive regulatory approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation to operate on public roads.
The R2 sports numerous innovative features that would not be possible with manually driven vehicles.
For example, the lack of sideview mirrors allows for smooth rounded contours, narrowing the size of the vehicle and allowing additional street space for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.
Additionally, the lack of a front windshield allows for a “Pedestrian-Protecting Front End” that absorbs energy and is capable of collapsing inward in the case of a collision, limiting damage to anything struck by the vehicle.
“There’s been so much work over the years to arrive at this moment, and much of it isn’t visible to the outside world — from designing and manufacturing a custom vehicle from scratch to testing every aspect of our software stack. All that quiet effort has culminated in something modest but important: getting delicious pizza delivered to real customers,” said Nuro co-founder Dave Ferguson.
So how exactly will this driverless pizza delivery system work?
Select customers in Houston can choose to have their pizza delivered by Nuro’s R2 robot. (Domino's/Nuro)
Customers who place a prepaid online order from Houston’s Woodland Heights Domino’s location during certain days and times will have the option of having their pizza delivered by the autonomous Nuro vehicle.
Those who are approved for the autonomous delivery will receive text message alerts updating them on the location of their delivery, and will be sent a unique PIN code to enter on the vehicle’s touch screen, which will open the doors and allow the customer to retrieve their order from inside.
“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,” Ferguson said. “We’re excited to introduce our autonomous delivery bots to a select set of Domino’s customers in Houston. We can’t wait to see what they think.”
According to Ferguson, pizza delivery in Houston is just the beginning, with the company planning to expand its autonomous delivery services to other industries across the country.
“This launch is really a glimpse of what’s to come. An autonomous pizza delivery to a customer in Houston will translate to deliveries of all kinds to people in all places,” Ferguson. “We want to build an equitable and accessible future with the promise of lower emissions, safer streets and more communities that participate in the economic growth of autonomous delivery.”
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