Aerial drones get a lot of the fanfare, but ground-based robots could form an important part of our autonomous delivery future, too. At least that's the way Domino's sees it, having enlisted rovers from startup Starship Technologies to deliver pizzas to select European cities.
Starship Technologies' electric six-wheeled robots are built to deliver goods to local customers living within a two-mile range (3.2 km). They do have a maximum speed of 10 mph (16 km/h), but will typically saunter along at more pedestrian-friendly 4 mph (6 km/h).
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Last December, Starship completed the first online food order using one of its self-driving robots, and now Domino's wants to get in on the action. Today, the pair have announced a partnership that will see Starship's robots start delivering pizzas to customers within a one-mile radius of selected Domino's stores in Germany and the Netherlands.
To begin with, the robots will be accompanied by a human as they complete the deliveries just in case something goes wrong. The initiative is part of the Domino's Robotic Unit, the same arm of the company that has overseen its previous attempts at autonomous delivery robots and drones, the latter of which is currently being trialled in New Zealand.
"Robotic delivery units will complement our existing delivery methods, including cars, scooters and e-bikes, ensuring our customers can get the hottest, freshest-made pizza delivered directly to them, wherever they are," said Don Meij, Domino's Group CEO and Managing Director. "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."
Source: Starship TechnologiesView gallery - 6 images