Domino’s is piloting pizza delivery via self-driving car in Houston, the chain announced on Monday.
Starting this week, select customers who place a prepaid online order from a Domino’s location in the Woodland Heights neighborhood can opt to have their orders delivered by an autonomous vehicle made by Silicon Valley robotics company Nuro. Customers will be able to track where the delivery robot is on its route via text alerts and GPS tracking. When the vehicle — which sort of resembles a miniature van with no driver — arrives, customers input a PIN that unlocks the robot’s doors, revealing hot pizza for the taking.
In 2016, Domino’s Australia tested robotic delivery carts that traversed sidewalks rather than roads. Stateside, Domino’s tested self-driving delivery cars in 2017, but those cars were actually still manned by Ford engineers and researchers. This latest launch with Nuro marks a step forward, as Nuro’s R2 vehicle is the first completely autonomous, occupantless car to receive regulatory approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation to operate on real roads. The company has previously partnered with other chains such as Kroger, Walmart, and CVS to deliver orders to customers.
While we’re still a ways off from replacing all delivery drivers with self-driving robots, that seems to be the long, long, long-term plan. Of course, that’s assuming humans don’t rise up and take it upon themselves to collectively kick robotic ass.