Working on the customer-robot experience is a different story. Domino’s CEO Ritch Allison said that one of the top areas of exploration for the Houston testing is the customer interface—how consumers are looking to interact with a robot on the curb or even in their driveway.
It’s not the first time the chain has experimented with self-driving pizza vehicles, though, and a previous four rounds of automated vehicle (AV) testing with Ford Motor Company generated a bevy of customer response. Allison said that, although the testing is no longer underway, the Ford partnership brought with it some valuable customer insights that Domino’s is drawing on now.
“Customers were really receptive to an AV delivery, and for a couple of reasons. Some don’t want to feel like they have to tip, and it does save a little money … Some would prefer to come out and not have a human interaction, just get their pizza and walk back inside,” he said.
The brand’s newly constructed Domino’s Innovation Garage (called the DIG around corporate headquarters) is the site for much of the Nuro testing. The DIG features a fully movable store model and various garage spaces for vehicles, allowing staff to simulate placing an order via one of Domino’s Anyware mobile platforms, sending orders to a store, and transmitting orders to unmanned vehicles.
While Allison said that there’s still much to learn both about the robot-delivery equation, he is looking ahead at a full incorporation of driverless delivery vehicles into Domino’s distribution model sometime in the not-so-far future.
“We’ll continue to test and learn but there will be a point in time when we … will be delivering product via autonomous vehicles of one type or another,” he said. He said the quick-serve is also testing out robots in its supply chain operations.