Peter Holley, The Washington Post
For months, the robotics company Nuro has been using stand-alone electric vehicles to shop for Kroger customers in Phoenix and Houston.
Now, Silicon Valley's start-up autonomous and unmanned vehicles – which look like a giant pill on the wheel and can reach 25 miles an hour as they drive on major roads alongside cars – have announced their new mission: deliver Domino pizzas to customers.
Nuro's latest challenge will be limited to customers who place orders online in Houston, a sprawling metropolis crisscrossed by congested roads. The company rolled out its grocery delivery service in Houston in March. The partnership between Nuro and Domino will initially be limited to one site and will begin in the fall.
With a narrow chassis of about half the width and weight of a typical car, Nuro vehicles lack seating, flying or space for human occupants. The company says the narrow frame gives the vehicle more space to get around obstacles and a few extra meters of safety to avoid a collision in the event of a sudden exit from a garage entrance or separation between cars in parking.
"We are always looking for new ways to innovate and improve the delivery terms of our customers," said Kevin Vasconi, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Domino, in a statement released by the company. society. "Nuro vehicles are specially designed to optimize the food delivery experience, making it a valuable partner in our autonomous vehicle journey."
"The opportunity to offer our customers the choice of an unsupervised delivery experience, and to our operators an additional delivery solution at peak shopping periods, is an important part of our testing. of autonomous vehicles, "the statement added.
The human deliverer may soon become a remnant of the past, while tech companies are eager to automate the delivery of food, which remains a modern gold mine.
On university campuses across the country, robot-based food shipments are becoming more commonplace. After a fleet of 25 delivery robots from Starship Technologies, a new Bay Area company, descended on the campus of George Mason University in January, campus officials saw an increase in the number of breakfast orders.
During the first day of deliveries to GMU, the machines were flooded with so many dinner orders that school officials had to unplug, cutting off orders for the robots not to work late into the night, well into delay.
Last week, Uber announced plans to begin testing the world's first commercial drone food delivery application in high-density urban areas, joining companies like Amazon and Google looking to make unmanned commercial shipments using the same technology. (Jeff Bezos, General Manager of Amazon, owns The Washington Post.)
The company's new initiative – a collaborative effort between its Uber Eats and Uber Elevate divisions – began with tests in San Diego with McDonald's fast food dishes, but could expand to include a local gourmet restaurant called Juniper Ivy, announced the company. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Uber plans to launch commercial food shipments using drones in the same city this summer, with a fee structure that mimics Uber Eats' current prices.
The newspaper reported that Uber Eats had achieved a turnover of $ 1.5 billion in 2018, an increase of nearly 150% over the previous year.
Founded by two former members of Google's autonomous car project, Nuro says his goal is to "transform local commerce." After receiving a $ 1 billion investment from the Japanese company SoftBank, Nuro is keen to expand and started laying the foundation for a variety of services, ranging from the delivery of cooked food to from mobile and automated kitchens to package delivery, according to TechCrunch.
The company says that, as far as its team knows, its unpublished grocery service – which costs $ 5.95 per deposit – is the first of its kind. In any case, the stand-alone delivery service will compete with a growing number of well-known companies in the grocery distribution sector, such as Amazon and Walmart.
Domino's, which delivers 3 million pizzas a day worldwide, has been testing autonomous dispensing systems for several years. In Michigan, then in Miami, the pizza giant teamed up with Ford to create a delivery service using autonomous vehicles. The company's main rival, Pizza Hut, is also testing driverless delivery with Toyota Motor Co.
The San Francisco-based start-up Udelv began making grocery deliveries in the Bay Area and Oklahoma City. Recognized for its bright orange vehicles, the company announced this week its intention to start supplying auto parts to Houston businesses.
How will Nuro's pizza delivery work?
Once Domino customers in Houston place their order, they can track their driverless vehicle through the Domino app. Once the vehicle arrives at the delivery point, customers will be able to use the PIN provided by Domino to unlock the vehicle compartment and collect their pizza.