Starting this week, residents in Houston are able to order from Domino’s (NYSE: DPZ) and have their pizza delivered via an autonomous delivery vehicle.
Self-driving delivery company Nuro is now offering delivery of Domino’s pizza in the area on certain days and times by its R2 robot vehicle. The deliveries are being made from Domino’s Woodland Heights location.
“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.”
Select customers who place a prepaid order on the Domino’s website may have R2 make the delivery. In that case, the customer will receive text messages with R2’s progress and a unique PIN number so they can retrieve their order from the vehicle using a touchscreen on the bot.
R2 is a second-generation vehicle from Nuro. The first version, R1, began making deliveries for Kroger in Scottsdale, Arizona, in December 2018. R2 offers more cargo space and a longer range. It also offers temperature control for items inside the cargo compartments.
Nuro received U.S. Department of Transportation approval to operate the vehicle on roadways in early 2020.
“We’re excited to continue innovating the delivery experience for Domino’s customers by testing autonomous delivery with Nuro in Houston,” said Dennis Maloney, Domino’s senior vice president and chief innovation officer. “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.”
In November, Nuro announced a $500 million Series C fundraising round, bringing its total funding since its founding in 2016 to over $1 billion. The round, led by funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, with participation from new investors including Fidelity Management & Research Co. LLC and Baillie Gifford, and existing investors such as SoftBank Vision Fund 1 and Greylock, also featured an investment by Chipotle.
“We are always seeking opportunities that provide innovative solutions for increasing access and convenience for our guests,” said Curt Garner, Chipotle’s chief technology officer. “Nuro could change the traditional delivery model, and we believe consumers are going to continue to seek options and additional access points for how and where they enjoy their food.”