Robo pizza delivery: Bots set to dish out Domino's pies starting this week

Historically, humans have braved the roadways to manually deliver pizza pies to other humans. An autonomous delivery system could usher in the dawn of a new pizza era.

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Image: Domino's

Historically, pizza delivery professionals have traversed highways and byways to bring foods to the doorstep of awaiting customers. A program rolling out this week could usher in a new age for the perennially popular delivery staple.

On Monday, Domino's and the self-driving vehicle company Nuro launched an autonomous pizza delivery program set to begin this week. So how does it work and who is first in line for the robo-pizza delivery?

Overall, the autonomous delivery system uses Nuro's R2 autonomous vehicle, which looks like a miniature Volkswagen bus branded with Domino's logo and a sensor suite situated on the roof to help the unit navigate its environment. Domino's said the robotic pizza delivery option would be available on certain days and times to select customers ordering from the Woodland Heights location in Houston, Texas.

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"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," said Dennis Maloney, Domino's senior vice president and chief innovation officer.

"The growing demand for great-tasting pizza creates the need for more deliveries, and we look forward to seeing how autonomous delivery can work along with Domino's existing delivery experts to better support the customers' needs," Maloney continued.

Select customers ordering from the participating location will prepay for orders online and opt to have the pizza delivered via the R2 vehicle, Domino's said, adding that dispatched text alerts will provide R2 location updates and give customers a unique pin to enter on the bot's touchscreen upon arrival. This code will then prompt the vehicle's doors to open, "revealing the customer's hot Domino's order."

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Image: Domino's

Nuro R2: Specs and safety features

Nuro's R2 delivery vehicle has a max speed of 25 miles per hour and the rooftop sensor suite includes 360-degree cameras, a thermal imaging camera, Lidar, short- and long-range radar, ultrasonics as well as "emergency vehicle audio detection," according to a company infographic. Additionally, the front of the vehicle features an energy absorption panel and a "sound generator for pedestrian safety."

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"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," said Dave Ferguson, Nuro co-founder and president. "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."

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