Domino’s Pizza pilots driverless delivery with Nuro in Houston

Domino’s Nuro Autonomous Delivery Vehicle

Source: Domino’s

Domino’s Pizza‘s newest deliverer isn’t a person — it’s a self-driving car.

The restaurant company said Monday that an autonomous car made by Nuro will start delivering pizzas in Houston this week as part of a pilot program.

Customers will have to place a prepaid order on Domino’s website for delivery from the chain’s Woodland Heights location. If their order falls within certain days and times, they can choose to have Nuro’s R2 robot drop off their pizza. Once the robot arrives, customers will enter a unique PIN on its touch screen to prompt the doors to open so they can retrieve their pizza.

A Domino’s spokeswoman said the company doesn’t have an end date for the pilot program yet.

The R2 robot is the first completely autonomous on-road delivery vehicle without any occupants to receive regulatory approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Nuro, which was founded by two former members of Google’s self-driving car team, raised $500 million in its last funding round, which included an investment from Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Over the last decade, Domino’s has invested in technology to make ordering and receiving a pizza faster and easier, helping it lure customers away from independent pizzerias and other chains, such as Papa John’s. Driverless pizza delivery is one area of recent focus, although the company is still years — or even decades — away from replacing its entire fleet of drivers.

In 2019, the company announced its partnership with Nuro. Two years before, it researched how consumers would react to pizza delivery by an autonomous car from Ford.

Domino’s shares have risen 13% in the last year, giving it a market value of $15.2 billion. The company has benefited from consumers’ desire for delivery during the coronavirus pandemic, but analysts are concerned about pizza fatigue in the coming months.

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