By on April 14, 2021

Domino's

Domino’s has launched autonomous pizza delivery in Houston, Texas this week. Customers can choose to have their meal delivered by Nuro’s R2 robot. Nuro has the first completely autonomous on-road delivery vehicle approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Domino's

The Domino’s and Nuro combo is a single store offer for customers who choose limited R2 delivery. If selected, you receive text alerts updating R2’s location, and a PIN to claim your order. There’s GPS vehicle order tracking. The PIN is entered on the touch screen when R2 arrives. Boxes of hot food are revealed when the doors open.

Dennis Maloney, Domino’s SVP and chief innovation officer said, “We’re excited to continue innovating the delivery experience by testing Nuro autonomous delivery. There’s 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. Demand for pizza creates the need for more deliveries. We look forward to seeing how autonomous delivery can work along with Domino’s existing delivery to support our customers’ needs.”

Nuro’s mantra is better everyday life through robotics. Autonomous vehicles can deliver. Nuro’s autonomous delivery touts a safe, convenient, eco-friendly, driving alternative. Nuro has provided autonomous delivery to local communities in Texas, Arizona, and California, on the premise of safer streets and more livable cities. Helm’s Bakery trucks in Los Angeles couldn’t survive robberies. Will they highjack a robot full of pizzas?

[Images: Domino’s]

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27 Comments on “Domino’s Delivers Pizzas Autonomously in Houston...”


  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    How many amp-hours of electricity do you have to tip the robot? Do they accept slow chargers or do they require a fast charge connection?

    Now seriously, I can see these robots being burglarized for their battery packs. Or at least to be full of graffiti, railcar style.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      What about people just trying to steal the pizza for the LOLs.

      “Nuro’s mantra is better everyday life through robotics”
      Wasn’t that USR’s (from i, Robot) tag line?

  • avatar
    dwford

    But now I have to go outside and do work to get my pizza. Kinda defeats the purpose of ordering delivery.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Same comments as last year:
    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2020/04/california-greenlights-autonomous-delivery-vehicles-for-public-roads/#comment-9895564

    CNN’s video shows the thing in action:
    https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/12/tech/dominos-pizza-delivery-robot/index.html

    Even a *single* incident with these robots could kill the program, and then what? Domino’s and Nuro need to ask themselves if they think these R2 units are safer than the J&J Covid vaccine, which has a 1 : 1,000,000 blood clot rate, and got stopped/paused just for that remote possibility.

    Also, I’m trying to figure out how paying someone $10-15/hr to deliver pizzas is more expensive than the cost and risk of running a 31 kWh robot around a populated area. Come to think of it, the operating cost of the R2 would be practically nothing, and perhaps they figure the crash rate would actually be lower than the rate they already see from human pizza deliverers driving hoopties.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Denver, CO (AP)

    A consortium of companies and organizations, including vape maker Juul, the maker of Axe body sprays and Trojan condoms, and the National Association of Marijuana Dispensaries, has filed suit seeking an injunction against Domino’s Pizza’s new fleet of self-driving pizza delivery vehicles. The suit alleges business infringement.

    “About 34% of our customers deliver pizzas for a living,” said Clarence Crotchrot, Juul’s general counsel and spokesman for the consortium. “I mean, it’s either this or 7-11, and those guys don’t pay much. This fleet of robot pizza delivery vehicles would cause irreparable harm to our businesses, and must be stopped.”

    Summer Jones, spokeswoman for the marijuana dispensary association, said simply, “well, yeah, duh.”

    “Imagine the impact if our customers could no longer afford our product,” said Brock Landers, associate general counsel for Trojan Condoms. “There would be a spike in pregnancies. Do we really want to inflict that harm on society?”

    Domino’s spokesman Anne Lively said, “Imagine a world where you open your front door to get your pizza delivery, and the delivery guy doesn’t smell like week-old Axe and weed, and his 20-year-old Honda isn’t leaking oil in your driveway while it’s pumping out Lil Nas X at 100 decibels. That’s the world we’re striving for.”

  • avatar
    IH_Fever

    Great, just what we need in Houston, another obstacle to add to the slow moving texters and speed racer tailgaters. And I gotta walk outside? The horror….

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    @SCE to AUX:
    Exactly! What is the actual business case?
    Would it really SAVE money?

    Or is it another pipe dream from a CEO who hates labor, no matter how menial or low paid?

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Why do I imagine rednecks ordering pizza and then using these vehicles for target practice.

    Free pizza if your grouping is tight in the dice “dot”. LOL

  • avatar
    Hoser

    That thing is going to end up like HitchBot in Philly.

    • 0 avatar
      blppt

      I know we as humans tend to anthropomorphize things, but seeing decapitated Hitchbot made me really sad and angry.

      Despite just a few blocks away the human destitution live on Kensington Avenue is far more upsetting.

  • avatar

    As a lifelong New Yorker I do not know what these deliver but it is certainly not pizza

  • avatar
    36hp

    What is the problem being solved?

    The delivery drivers I know supplied there own vehicles. Getting gas, maintenance, insurance and so on is the drivers responsibility.

    At Walmart they have a sweeping machine — quite impressive. But you have replaced an underpaid (and undervalued) employee and a boom with a complex robot. And the robot can’t mop out the toilet when needed….

    In both of these cases the business is taking on more cost (maintenance and repair). Does this make any money? It seems like a corporate fantasy to get rid of all employees….

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Agreed. Every fast food outlet with delivery or “skip-the-dishes” I know makes the delivery people provide their own vehicles with zero reimbursement of operating cost. (I’ve explained to my sons that it’s a stupid job to take on) An autonomous drone will be a huge cost to the company.

      • 0 avatar
        indi500fan

        When Lyft and Uber came on the scene, I figured they would eventually fail because the drivers weren’t really understanding their full cost of vehicle per mile and would bail out after a while. They’re still around, so I’m guessing they just keep recruiting fresh meat?

    • 0 avatar
      amoore100

      Employees are incredibly expensive. Consider the bare minimum, $7 an hour, 8 hours a day. That’s $20k if they’re coming in all year, and that gets spent annually. Imagine if they can get this robot for, say, $50k (cheap, yes, but eventually, perhaps). If it only needs a $1000 maintenance every few years, by year three it’ll be worth it. I’m not saying this should happen, btw, but it’s not difficult to see why it does. Again, that’s what Uber and Lyft are relying on. Their current business models aren’t profitable, but once humans are out of the picture, the big bucks will start to come in.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    This is another one of those vanity projects for some higher-up in the Domino’s C-suite. They’re thinking they’re saving the world from some… thing…

    Domino’s has had a history of using vehicles to promote their pizza. Years ago, many franchisees had Ford Ranger pick up trucks as delivery vehicles, but I don’t think that worked out too well. Not too long ago, their next big thing was the Chevy Spark that had a pizza oven in the back seat area. Surprisingly (to me), our local Domino’s had one for a while, featured prominently in their parking lot, but I don’t see it any more. I never saw it making a delivery in the neighborhood, so I don’t even know if they actually owned it or even used it.

    My inner-hooligan knows what I’d be doing if I managed to corral one somewhere on a dead-end street. Domino’s would be out a bunch of pizza and have a disabled and/or damaged robot that they’d have to retrieve. I have to believe Domino’s corporate has contingency plans for this kind of thing. But never underestimate the creativity of people looking for a cheap thrill…

  • avatar
    johnny ringo

    How long before one of these things gets vandalized-like being stolen by some enterprising thieves for its battery pack or pizzas-or being covered with grafitti? It doesn’t seem like Dominos has thought this operation out very well.It will be interesting to see how this works out.

  • avatar

    It also seems, given the size/profile of the vehicle, that one to two people taking a run at it side on could tip it over quite easily. Agree with many other comments here, a solution to a non-problem fraught with potential vandalization issues. (Yeah, I made that word up.)

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    In general I like this idea. But then I no longer have rotary-dial telephones in my home (it sounds like some of you must). This kind of thing will [eventually] do just fine in the neighborhoods which count.

    But a more near-term issue:
    “The PIN is entered on the touch screen when R2 arrives.” So it’s a mobile mini super spreader.

    Possibly Relevant Fact for April 2021:
    Did you know you can make your own pizza at home, and put whatever you want on it? No rules, no restrictions. Imagine that.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      If a robot made pizza in my home, that would be money.

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        I paid big bucks just now for a polling company to survey interest in
        A) “Walking 29 feet to the side driveway to pick up delivered groceries from an R2 unit”
        vs.
        B) “Paying a human an average $7 tip to drop them on the front porch”

        Option A has a commanding lead.

        [7 US dollars would fund 40.4 ounces of mozzarella, 19.7 ounces of pepperoni, or 29.7 pounds of flour at current exchange rates. (“Not if you use Italian Double Zero Chef’s Flour!” “Go away.”)]

  • avatar
    sentience

    Houston makes sense. Nice wide streets, relatively flat land. Car centric neighborhood layouts.

    Looking forward to seeing something like this navigate around an older colonial era city, like Boston. Twisty hilly one ways everywhere. and that before you factor in the drivers and pedestrians.

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