It was 2013 when Domino’s Pizza, the well-known U.S. pizza chain, began testing the use of drones to deliver pizzas in the United Kingdom. Now the company has gone a step further in Houston (United States), where from now on it will be possible for a fully autonomous car, baptized R2, to deliver pizza to our doorstep.
It is an autonomous vehicle developed by Nuro and customized with a Domino’s Pizza theme. It is the first fully autonomous over-the-road delivery vehicle to receive regulatory approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation and, for the time being, will operate at Domino’s in Woodland Heights, Houston.
How the system works is relatively straightforward. Those users who live in Woodland Heights and place an order will be able to choose to have their pizza delivered by R2. When they do so, the platform will give them a PIN that they can use to track the location of the “car” from the web. This PIN will also have to be entered into the car once it arrives at the location so that the user can pick up the pizzas.
The car has a series of 360-degree cameras, LiDAR sensors, long- and short-range radar and ultrasonic sensors. Combining the data obtained by them, the device is able to map its environment and move around. In addition, Nuro has implemented a series of mapping, localization, perception and prediction technologies to eliminate blind spots.
R2 is not intended to carry passengers, so it is designed to always prioritize the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and other pedestrians. What’s more, the car drives on the road, like cars or trucks, but never on the sidewalk or bike lanes.
The Nuro R2 reaches a top speed of 25 mph, about 40 kilometers per hour, and has a 31 kWh battery (yes, it’s all-electric). It weighs 1,150 kilos and holds up to 190 kilos of cargo, more than enough to carry pizzas, Mexican food, medicine or groceries, as Nuro also works with Chipotle, CVS and Walmart.