A lot of pizza delivery drivers could be looking for a new job if this takes off.
As well as making driving more convenient and improving road safety, self-driving cars also have the potential to make delivery drivers obsolete. Back in 2017, Domino's Pizza teamed up with Ford to trial a self-driving pizza delivery service using a fleet of Ford Fusion sedans equipped with autonomous driving technology.
Taking this a step further, this latest trial service doesn't even require a driver behind the wheel to intervene if necessary. Domino's has partnered with the self-driving company Nuro, which has already worked with Kroger to test a self-driving grocery delivery service, to launch a new autonomous pizza delivery service in Houston.
From this week, select customers who place a prepaid order on Domino's website on certain days and times from Domino's in Woodland Heights at 3209 Houston Ave will have their pizza delivered to their door by Nuro's R2 robot. Unlike the "driverless" Ford Fusion pizza delivery car that required a safety driver behind the wheel, the R2 is completely autonomous and has no occupants. Despite having no occupants, the R2 is the first fully autonomous car that has a regulatory approval by the US Department of Transportation.
Customers who selected their order to be delivered by the autonomous robot will receive text alerts showing the R2's location. They will also receive a unique PIN number, which needs to be entered on the robot's touchscreen. Once entered, the R2's doors will open up to reveal the pizza inside.
"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. The growing demand for great-tasting pizza creates the need for more deliveries, and we look forward to seeing how autonomous delivery can work along with Domino's existing delivery experts to better support the customers' needs."
While the autonomous delivery service is only available in a specific area and being trailed by one Domino's Pizza store, a lot of pizza delivery drivers could be looking for a new job in the future if it expands.