Domino's, the world largest pizza company by retail sales, teamed up with California-based self-driving delivery company Nuro to roll out autonomous pizza deliveries in the US.
The company began the service in Houston, Texas, this week.
Customers who place a prepaid order on the company’s website during specific time slots can choose to have their pizza delivered by Nuro's R2 robot vehicle, Domino’s said in a statement.
"We are excited to continue innovating the delivery experience for customers by testing autonomous delivery with Nuro in Houston," Dennis Maloney, Domino's senior vice president and chief innovation officer, said.
"There is still so much to learn about the autonomous delivery space. The growing demand for pizza creates the need for more deliveries, and we look forward to seeing how autonomous delivery can work along with existing delivery experts to better support the customers' needs."
The pilot initiative will help Domino’s understand how customers respond to autonomous deliveries, how they interact with the robot and how it affects store operations, the Michigan-based company said.
Founded in 2016, Nuro has brought autonomous delivery options to local communities in Texas, Arizona and California. Its R2 robot is the first fully autonomous, passenger-less on-road delivery vehicle with regulatory approval from the US Department of Transportation.
Nuro's mission is to improve every day life through robotics, Dave Ferguson, the company’s co-founder and president, said.
“For the first time, we are launching real world, autonomous deliveries with R2 and Domino's … we are 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," Mr Ferguson said.
Many companies are experimenting with robots to deliver food, medicines and other essential items to reduce the scope of human contact to stem the spread of Covid-19.
San Francisco-based start-up Starship Technologies last year rolled out its food delivery boxes on wheels in various parts of the US and the UK.
How it works
Customers who place an online order from a participating Domino's branch can opt to have their order delivered by the Nuro R2 robot. They will receive text alerts, which will update them on R2's location and provide them with a personal identification number to retrieve their order.
“Customers may also track the vehicle via GPS on their order confirmation page,” Domino’s said.
Once the Nuro R2 robot arrives at its destination, customers will be prompted to enter their PIN number on the bot's touchscreen. R2's doors will then gently open upwards and customers can take their order.