Domino's wants to automate the process of pizza deliveries with a new four-wheeled robot prototype the retailer hopes to soon bring to the streets.
The pizza chain last night unveiled DRU, an autonomous delivery vehicle built by Australian start-up Marathon Robots.
The droid has compartments to keep pizzas hot and drinks cold, and travels using an inbuilt LiDAR system to detect and avoid obstacles and deliver food and beverages from the pizza outlet to the customer's door.
Customers receive a text message with a dedicated code which unlocks their order within the robot when it arrives.
DRU - the Domino's Robotic Unit - is unable to travel on the road due to regulatory restrictions, so is currently relegated to the footpath.
The pizza chain has been trialling the device under a special permit from the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads and has made some customer deliveries in semi-autonomous mode travelling at "safe walking speed" on restricted streets.
The robot can travel up to 20km before its rechargeable battery runs out. The vehicle weighs around 190kg and is 922mm tall.
"The trials are a big step forward in commercialising fully autonomous delivery vehicles," Domino's said in a statement.
The use of autonomous vehicles on Australia's roads has been gaining momentum nationally over the last year, starting with a trial of driverless cars last November on an Adelaide expressway.
Victoria last week offered $4.5 million worth of grants to fund the development of autonomous vehicles and intelligent transport systems.
Interestingly, the concept for a driverless delivery vehicle appeared to have originated as part of an April Fool's Day joke within Domino's UK business.
Last April Domino's UK posted a blog "revealing" the "world's first driverless pizza delivery vehicle", dubbed the "Domi-No-Driver".
The joke robot is similar in nature to the DRU, but uses two wheels instead of four.