Where Did the Pizza Delivery Guy Go?
Domino’s testing self-driving cars for home delivery
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- While driverless cars may eventually impact fuel sales, the high-tech concept may also change the way foodservice operators deliver hot food. Such is the case with Domino’s Pizza, which is reportedly testing a driverless vehicle to deliver hot pizzas to people’s homes.
The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based pizza-delivery chain debuted its first commercial autonomous vehicle, a robot, in Australia, delivering pizza using Google maps, according to ZDNet. The test occurred in Brisbane, where Domino’s has a permit to test driverless cars.
DRU (Domino’s Robotic Unit) had already successfully performed a number of customer deliveries in restricted streets in Brisbane under a special permit given by the Queensland Department of Transport & Main Roads. During these trials, it operated DRU in semi-autonomous mode to ensure the tests complied with current regulation.
It is a four-wheeled robotic vehicle with compartments built to keep the customer’s order hot and drinks cold while traveling on the footpath at a safe speed from the store to the customer’s door. According to the Domino's Australia website, DRU can navigate from a starting point to his destination, selecting the best path of travel. Onboard sensors enable it to perceive obstacles along the way and avoid them if necessary.
But despite such forays into the driverless realm, the pizza-delivery chain still is invested in delivery vheicles with drivers.
Last fall, Domino’s debuted its DXP (delivery expert) car, a sleek, human-driven vehicle designed with a working oven to keep pizzas warm. The car can carry 80 pizza boxes and only has seating for the driver in order to maximize room for food and beverages, according to the company's website.
“Even though Domino’s deliveries will still primarily be made in the personal cars of delivery drivers, Domino’s DXP represents an innovative leap into the 21st century and takes delivery to a new level of efficiency and quality,” said Domino’s U.S. president Russell Weiner in a statement.
“This is not a gimmick,” he said. “This is not the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.”
Boston, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, New Orleans, San Diego and Seattle were cities initially targeted for the DXP vehicles, the statement said.