Over the last decade, the stock price of Domino’s Pizza has crushed that of Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook mainly because it stopped making pizza that tasted like cardboard. Now it’s innovating on the labor front with plans to test robots as substitutes for your friendly pizza delivery guy. “With our growth plans over the next five to 10 years, we simply won’t have enough delivery drivers if we do not look to add to our fleet through initiatives such as this,” Domino’s chief executive said in a statement announcing the pilot program.
Domino’s will use delivery robots made by the startup Starship Technologies in some German and Dutch cities. The robots will complete deliveries within a one mile radius of Domino’s stores. The Starship bots are part of the Domino’s Robotic Unit, a system the pizza brand is developing that also involves airborne drone deliveries.
The pilot will start small. Starship is supplying five robots to Domino’s. The startup said it will add more robots to the program as it progresses. It also plans to expand the program to Domino’s outlets elsewhere in Europe after the German and Dutch trial. The bots are capable of a top speed of 6 km per hour, and Starship expects most deliveries to be completed in 15 to 30 minutes from the time of ordering. “This will be even quicker with short distances,” Starship said.
Starship’s bots are already being used for food deliveries in Europe by Just Eat, and in the US with DoorDash and PostMates. Last September Mercedes Benz Vans came up with a futuristic concept van that could deploy and reload Starship bots. Mercedes Benz Vans also led a $17.2 million funding round in Starship that was announced in January. It’s clear that at least some established corporations believe that food driving itself to consumers at the touch of a button is the future.