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Robotics Startup Nuro & Domino's to Deliver Pizza Using Unmanned Autonomous Vehicles

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【Summary】Domino's Pizza, one of the biggest pizza chains in the U.S., said it is launching a pilot with well-funded Silicon Valley-based autonomous robotics startup Nuro, to deliver customer orders using small autonomous vehicles.

FutureCar Staff    Jun 17, 2019 3:48 PM PT
Robotics Startup Nuro & Domino's to Deliver Pizza Using Unmanned Autonomous Vehicles
The Nuro autonomous vehicle is custom-designed to hold pizzas and other Domino's products.

Domino's Pizza, one of the biggest pizza chains in the U.S., said it is launching a pilot with well-funded Silicon Valley-based autonomous robotics startup Nuro, to deliver customer orders using small autonomous vehicles. The pilot will begin later this year in Houston.

Domino's will offer autonomous pizza delivery using a custom-built unmanned vehicle from Nuro known as the "R2". The compact robotic vehicles will deliver orders to Domino's customers who place their orders online.

Nuro's self-driving delivery service first launched in 2018 with grocery chain Kroger.

The company said that partnering with Domino's marks an important next step in its journey to become the autonomous delivery partner of choice for retailers of all kinds.

"We are excited to expand our autonomous delivery service in Houston with Domino's delivery," noted Cosimo Leipold, Nuro's head of partner relations. "Domino's delivers millions of pizzas around the world every day, and the company shares our passion for focusing on the customer experience. We see incredible opportunity in offering Nuro's world-class autonomous technology to Domino's customers, accelerating our shared mission to transform local commerce."  

Instead of carrying passengers, Nuro is developing a fleet of small self-driving vehicles that are designed for businesses and e-commerce to deliver a wide variety of goods from restaurant meals, dry cleaning and groceries.

Nuro's vehicles have a maximum speed of 25 mph, making them safer to use in public locations. Unlike vehicles that are designed to carry passengers, Nuro's robotic vehicles can be engineered and built from the ground up more quickly.

Since they don't carry humans, the driverless vehicles do not require seat belts (or seats), airbags, windows, infotainment and other features found on passenger vehicles. Nuro said the vehicle's software is programmed to prioritize humans over its cargo at all times for an added layer of safety.

Nuro said the autonomous vehicles are completely aware of their surroundings at all times. The delivery vehicles yield for pedestrians, bicyclists and other vehicles, while recognizing traffic signals and obeying all local traffic laws.

How it Works

Select customers who place an online order from one of Domino's participating Houston stores will have the opportunity to use Nuro's autonomous vehicle for delivery. Once they have opted in, customers can track the vehicle in real-time via the Domino's app and will be provided with a unique PIN code to unlock the secure compartment to remove their pizza.

"We are always looking for new ways to innovate and evolve the delivery experience for our customers," said Kevin Vasconi, Domino's executive vice president and chief information officer. "Nuro's vehicles are specially designed to optimize the food delivery experience, which makes them a valuable partner in our autonomous vehicle journey. The opportunity to bring our customers the choice of an unmanned delivery experience, and our operators an additional delivery solution during a busy store rush, is an important part of our autonomous vehicle testing."

Since being founded in 2016, Nuro has become one of the hottest startups in Silicon Valley. The company has raised more than $1 billion in financing from investors including the Softbank Vision Fund and Greylock.

The company put together a team of world-renowned experts in robotics, artificial intelligence, computer vision, and product design. Many of Nuro's employees previously worked on autonomous driving projects at top companies such as Google, Apple, Uber and Tesla.

"Nuro's initial application of transporting goods through self-driving technology has allowed us to build a real service and have immediate impact on communities," said Dave Ferguson, Co-founder of Nuro in April after expanding the autonomous grocery delivery pilot with Kroger to Houston.

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