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Domino’s Trials Pizza Delivery Robot

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

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End of the road for the pizza delivery boy? Your Pepperoni Passion could soon be delivered by robot

Its Friday and you fancy a takeaway, but in Australia at least your pizza could soon be delivered by a robot.

It comes after Domino’s Australia said it has managed to convert a military robot into a pizza delivery machine.

Pizza Delivery Boy

The robot is called DRU (Domino’s Robotic Unit) and essentially looks like a bit like the Wall-E in the Disney Pixar film. It utilises GPS to travel along pavements at a maximum speed of 20km/h (12.4mph).

It has a specialised compartment to keep the pizza warm (another to keep drinks cool) and can even accept payment from the customer. When it arrives at its destination, the customer enters a security code on their phone to tell the robot to open its locked storage compartment and deliver the pizza.

dominosdruThe former military robot is apparently powered by technology from Marathon Robotics. It is weather-proof and incorporates sensors that use lasers to steer around objects (for example out of work pizza delivery boys).

A video of the robot in action on the street of Brisbane on 8 March can be found here.

“DRU (Domino’s Robotic Unit) is an autonomous delivery vehicle and is set to take the world by storm,” said the company. “With sleek, refined forms combined with a friendly persona and lighting to help customers identify and interact with it, DRU is a world first in the space of commercial autonomous delivery.”

“This highlights what can happen when disruptive thinking is fostered – it turns into a commercially viable and revolutionary product,” said Domino’s Group CEO and MD Don Meij. “The DRU prototype is only the first step in our research and development as we continue to develop a range of innovations set to revolutionise the entire pizza ordering experience.”

Legislative Requirements

Meij confirmed that Domino’s has been working with the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads to ensure DRU meets relevant legislative requirements as it undergoes testing.

“We are also working with Government agencies on the project to ensure all legal requirements are met,” said Meij. “The agencies have been very supportive in the process to date and we’re all excited about what this technology can lead to.”

It seems that DRU is being tested for  number of customer deliveries in restricted streets identified by the Department under special permit. At the moment, it is operated in semi-autonomous mode to ensure the robot complies with current regulation.

“With autonomous vehicles opening up possibilities for saving lives, saving time and moving goods more efficiently, we look forward to continuing our work in this field and leading the commercial trials so that our customers can reap the benefits,” Meij said.

Earlier this month Estonian start-up Starship Technologies revealed its delivery robots will be heading to the streets of Greenwich in south east London as part of a six-month trial period.

Last year research showed that British grown ups are becoming increasingly open to the idea of robots replacing humans in certain sectors.

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