Robo-Delivery Takes Houston
Spearheading the future of autonomous food delivery, we examine the AI and food company partnership bringing advanced robotics to the streets of Houston
Writer: Phoebe Harper
Pizza lovers across Houston can now enjoy a wholly-revolutionized delivery experience, as fully autonomous on-road delivery vehicles take to the streets of the city.
This comes as the latest exciting merger between the world’s largest pizza company, Domino’s, and Nuro – the leading American technology enterprise dedicated to streamlining everyday life through robotics Domino’s originally announced the partnership with Nuro back in 2019, to further the trialling and exploration of the possibilities of autonomous delivery. The collaboration, launched in April 2021 - presents the marriage between fast, and secure food delivery, with one of the most technically and commercially mature autonomous vehicles (AVs) in the world.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Domino’s customers in a select area of Houston can choose to have their order delivered by R2 after completing a pre-paid order on the Domino’s website from a participating store. Text alerts are then used to update the customer on R2’s location, which can also be tracked by GPS on the order confirmation page.
Each customer is assigned an individual PIN code which enables them to retrieve their order from the vehicle. Upon R2’s arrival, customers are prompted to enter their PIN on a touchscreen, after which the vehicle’s doors will open upwards to reveal a fresh, tasty pizza waiting inside.
Domino’s Chief Innovation Officer, Dennis Maloney, commented in a public statement that the global pizza retail enterprise is excited to continue developing and refining the processes of the autonomous delivery experience, and will be acting on the feedback of the brand’s customers in the Houston area. The two companies are complimented by a community-centric focus, that ultimately leverages cutting edge technology to further customer convenience.
As a company that holds equity as a core part of their value system, Nuro deliberately chose Houston as the first city to implement their city-scale delivery service simply because it is the most diverse city in the US. This is part of the company’s accessible vision of allowing everyone, regardless of geography or income, to benefit from the convenience of technological advances particularly concerning local commerce.
With Domino’s anticipating an ever-growing number of orders and deliveries, a figure that has been significantly amplified by the recurring lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic, the R2 represents an efficient solution for store operations. Indeed, during 2020 alone, Domino’s generated over 70 percent of sales through their digital channels. The brand has already developed a range of innovative ordering platforms, including services for Amazon Echo, Twitter, Apple Watch, Facebook Messenger and Google Home. Ultimately, by eliminating the need for more staff and potentially higher wait times, the R2 will enable Domino’s to better support their customer’s needs.
Operating with the mantra ‘less driving, more thriving,’ the transportation solutions proposed by Nuro are not only designed to give people more time to do what they love, but they also represent an eco-friendly and safe alternative. Outside of the partnership with the Houston branches of Domino’s, Nuro has already introduced autonomous delivery services to communities in California, Texas and Arizona.
With more brand partnerships expected in the years to come, the future of autonomous delivery has only just begun.