Domino's has announced the test launch of a robot pizza delivery service in partnership with the self-driving delivery company Nuro.
Nuro received federal approval in February 2020 to begin driving the R2 on public roads. The state of California also gave Nuro a license to run on public roads in April 2020.
According to the companies, the service is limited to a single Domino's location in Houston's Woodland Heights neighborhood and is available to a limited number of customers who place prepaid orders online.
People who want to have their pizza delivered by a Nuro R2 robotic vehicle can receive text alerts on the status of their order as well as a special code number to unlock and retrieve their pizza from a storage compartment when it arrives.
Apparently, there's no need to tip, but how people interact with a rrobot delivery is expected to be a work-in-progress.
"There is still so much for our brand to learn about the autonomous delivery space," Dennis Maloney, Domino's senior vice president and chief innovation officer, said.
"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."
Nuro's pizza delivery partnership with Domino's follows the company's previous pilot projects with Walmart, Kroger, and CVS in Mountain View, California.
Domino's and Nuro began exploring autonomous delivery in 2019 in Houston. Since the pandemic, there has been a greater demand for more contactless forms of food distribution, rendering autonomous delivery vehicles an appealing choice.
Nuro, founded by two former Google self-driving car project members, is now one of the best-funded autonomous tech developers, having secured $500 million in a funding round revealed last month on top of a $940 million round led by Softbank and Greylock Management.
Unlike rival self-driving technology programs such as Alphabet's Waymo and GM-backed Cruise, Nuro focuses primarily on deliveries and logistics rather than robotaxis.
Its electric R2 vehicle, equipped to transport parcels, groceries, and food orders, is roughly half the size of a typical car and travels at a low speed.