On March 17, at a Domino's Pizza launch party, it was announced that the first delivery of a pizza by Domino's new DRU (Domino's Robotic Unit) had been successfully carried out in Hornsby, Australia, about 18 miles north of Sydney.
Development started in 2015 by Domino’s Brisbane-based DLab. According to the promotional video shown below, the DRU uses technology developed by Australian military contractor Marathon Targets, which manufactures autonomous robots with obstacle-avoidance capabilities. The autonomous robotic platform inside the custom body was supplied by Marathon.
With autonomous vehicles opening up possibilities for saving lives, saving time and moving goods more efficiently, we look forward to continuing our work in this field and leading the commercial trials so that our customers can reap the benefits,” said Don Meij, Domino's Group CEO and Managing Director. “DRU is cheeky and endearing and we are confident that one day he will become an integral part of the Domino’s family. He’s a road to the future and one that we are very excited about exploring further.
According to Domino’s, the new DRU can dodge hurdles using on-board sensors. The autonomous four-wheeler is about 3-1/2 feet tall and contains two different compartments to keep beverages cool and pizzas (up to 10 per robot) hot. Customers can unlock the compartments with an order-specific code. The DRU can carry out a delivery within 12 miles from the store before needing a battery charge, and it is designed to move on both footpaths and roads.
I'm picturing this lonely little robot, rolling down a suburban street, full of pizza. And I'm remembering what an idiot I was when I was 17. And I'm thinking that as long as there are 17 year old boys, there will be people trying to mug DRU for pizzas, or just kick him over just to ruin somebody else's pizzas.
On this point, Domino's is suggesting DRU will carry some “surveillance and security” technology, which could help identify ratbag robot muggers, but probably not resuscitate a pizza that's been upside down. Given that DRU is built on a base platform sourced from the military, perhaps he can be equipped with other security options that might be much more effective for pizza protection.