For years, Domino’s has been devising new vehicles to deliver our favorite food, pizza. Now, Domino’s New Zealand has introduced the world’s first autonomous pizza delivery vehicle called DRU, and the company promises to radically change how pizza is delivered.
DRU, short for Domino’s Robotic Unit, is an adorable custom designed, three-foot tall robot with a “cheeky personality” and four wheels. Designed in 2015 at Domino’s Australia with the help of Australian tech startup Marathon Targets, DRU was created with state of the art military technology, a special microchip, and an innovative dream to make pizza delivery faster and better.
Hot food and cold drinks are stored separately in side by side sections. DRU is set up for small parties or larger gatherings as up to ten pizzas can be stored in the hot section. Using Domino’s famed GPS technology that syncs along with Google Maps, the affable robot will find the fastest, most direct route to the correct home. Inside of DRU is a complex sensory system that utilizes lasers to help maneuver the unit around roads, bike paths and natural trails to the delivery destination at 20 kilometers per hour (12 mph).
Domino’s has been testing DRU in New Zealand, although they no official regular customer delivery start date has been set. There is already a lot of excitement in New Zealand for DRU. Simon Bridges, Minister of Transport and Minister of Energy and Resources, has already expressed his enthusiasm on Twitter.
Using technology that has been tested on roads, Engadget reports that DRU uses LIDAR, the autonomous car technology that Starship Technologies is using with their upcoming delivery robots that will soon be used in London.
Although currently, DRU cannot go up stairs or ride an elevator, the little robots will deliver their hot and fresh pizza right outside the consumer’s door. Customers are given a code to allow them to remove their food from DRU. The best part is that DRU will keep the pizza hot, the drinks icy cold, and the robot won’t stick out a hand for that tip.
Quite a few followers of the Domino’s New Zealand Facebook page brought up all possible scenarios of hungry people encountering the small robot and removing the delicious contents as he attempted to traverse to his delivery destination. While this seems improbable, as DRU weights 190 kilos (214 lbs), Domino’s made it clear that they have already thought about the security and safety of their little robot and the delicious contents inside.
“The safety of all our delivery fleet is a number one priority and DRU is absolutely no different. We will be taking every precaution necessary to ensure he is safe including surveillance and security etc. Thanks, Bree”
Odds are security is not the only thing that Domino’s will be testing. They will most likely consider all possible robot scenarios for big pizza consuming events such as Super Bowl Sunday, where an estimated 12 million Domino’s pizza slices are eaten on that day alone. Domino’s will continue to improve this prototype by imaging each scenario and building on the technology.
While there currently is not an immediate need for a robot delivery lane on streets or sidewalks, Domino’s promises that they will continue to work diligently to make DRU a reality soon. There are plans to have the robots in Queensland, Australia stores in the next six months, and within two years, they are expected to be delivering regularly. There is no official date for DRU pizza deliveries in the United States as of now, but this is sure to occur as other pizza companies plan for their own creative pizza delivery technologies.
Domino’s promises that DRU will “take the world by storm.” As technology continues to innovate, along with rapid advances in the interconnectivity that encompasses the Internet of Things, we will see more self-driving robots, vehicles, and drones in the next few years. Very soon, we will meet DRU, the “cheeky and endearing” robot forever changing the way pizza is delivered.
[Photo from Domino’s]