In its ongoing bid to automate its pizza operations in every which way possible, Domino's has announced a new partnership with robotics startup Nuro. The agreement will see Nuro's self-driving pods bring some customers in Houston their pizzas without the aid of a delivery person, and is another example of how the pizza giant is exploring the ways its business can be streamlined through autonomous technologies.

Ford's self-driving cars, Starship Technologies' six-wheeled rovers and even unmanned drones are just a few of the vehicles Domino's has tested out as next-gen pizza couriers. And just last month, it introduced an AI-powered pizza scanner as a form of quality control to make sure its pies look the part before they are boxed up for delivery.

And Nuro, too, has been getting busy in the autonomous delivery space since rolling onto the scene last January. Its self-driving pod called R2 is built to roam the streets with its cargo holds loaded up with food items for hungry customers. It has agreements in place to conduct pilots with massive supermarket chain Kroger in Arizona, as well as another using a modified Lincoln MKZ in California.

It has also been testing autonomous deliveries in Houston since March this year, and in joining forces with Domino's hopes to build on its early footsteps in the area. The pizza chain's customers will be able to order from specific Domino's stores, with Nuro's autonomous pod then carrying out the delivery. The customers will be able to open the hatch and retrieve their pizza with a pin code provided through the Domino's app.

"Nuro's vehicles are specially designed to optimize the food delivery experience, which makes them a valuable partner in our autonomous vehicle journey," says Kevin Vasconi, Domino's executive vice president and chief information officer. "The opportunity to bring our customers the choice of an unmanned delivery experience, and our operators an additional delivery solution during a busy store rush, is an important part of our autonomous vehicle testing."

Domino's says the pilot program will commence "later this year."

Source: Domino's