This week Domino’s pizza in the US announced a partnership with Nuro to use its R2 self-driving car to deliver pizzas in the Houston area. The trial, starting this week at one store in the city, will send a pizza out in the autonomous Nuro R2 when a customer prepays online. When it arrives, the customer gets a notification and a pin to open the door and pick up the pizza. Whether it will judge you for a poor tip is yet to be seen.
It’s not just pizzas set to be delivered by driverless cars. Autonomous delivery van company Udelv has partnered with Intel company Mobileye for its next generation of vehicles. The plan is for a fleet of driverless delivery vehicles to hit the road from 2023. Fleet management firm Donlen has already ordered 1,000 of the vehicles.
While the likes of Tesla and Apple are looking to consumer vehicles, driverless delivery vehicles are set to reduce the expensive “last mile” of delivery for goods and also solve a common shortage of drivers for this kind of work. The last year has seen heavy use of home delivery services thanks to online shopping and food delivery. These vehicles could help to ease the strain on demand.
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Companies such as Chipotle, Walmart and CVS Pharmacy have been testing using the Nuro delivery vehicles. In Singapore, Otsaw Digtial has launched two robot vehicles that deliver food or parcels to customers – disinfecting themselves using UV light after each delivery. Meanwhile, Amazon and FedEx have both announced in the past year that they are developing robot vehicles for their deliveries.
It’s not just goods that are looking to be delivered, either. Mobileye is also working with transport companies in Europe and plans to operate an autonomous ride-sharing service in Israel early in 2022. While Uber has now given up on its autonomous attempts, Aurora acquired the technology and plans to develop an autonomous platform. Google’s Waymo is still in the running too, with its self-driving Waymo One currently accepting riders in Phoenix.
We might have to wait a little longer until we go fully autonomous with our deliveries but if it gets our curries and Amazon orders here a little faster – and to the right place – we're down.