When you hate talking to people and prefer to do everything via text or online messaging, news that Domino’s Pizza is in talks to launch a robot delivery boy is just music to your ears.
Without a human in sight, the autonomous delivery vehicle glides along footpaths and up to your front door, handing over the pizza and accepting payment from customers.
The vehicle, known as DRU for Domino’s Robotic Unit, uses GPS to find its way around cities and negotiate the odd bike track to locate its destination. DRU is a four-wheeled vehicle with a maximum speed of 18km per hour, and a few sneaky with compartments for pizzas and drinks.
Dominos Group CEO Don Meij unveiled DRU in Brisbane last night, per The Australian, but wouldn’t unveil the price the company paid to develop it. He hazarded a guess that each DRU would be worth around $30,000, and without human assistance, could be the perfect kidnap-ransom arrangement. (Well, Meij didn’t say that last bit but the rest of us are all thinking it).
Meij did expect the first DRU to be rolling around Brisbane, where Domino’s is headquartered, in 6 months time. But the reality is that there are some pretty big obstacles to overcome before anything like DRU is seen around town.
First, the robotics involved has to be capable of avoiding obstacles, kind of obvious, but an easy oversight. The delivery robot needs to be able to dodge curbs, obey traffic lights, read road and pedestrian signage, not run over homeless people, not mow down little children, and ward off barking dogs.
And then there’s the houses with stairs.
It would also need to manage mud in parks and have some hefty bulletproof collision avoidance technology, otherwise that’s a fast-moving critter to watch out for.
Dominos also didn’t give any assurance of just how far the development had gone with the robot delivery idea, just that it was deep in the world of advanced robotics.
Aside from potential thefts and hacking-hilarity steering the pizza boys off course, the other biggest obstacle is regulation. Local and state governments would have to be totally convinced of the capability of the robotics to co-exist in society with us before even thinking about giving it the green light. And that could take a while.
Meij said the various agencies he’d spoken to have been “very supportive in the process to date”. Domino’s said it had conducted some test deliveries under a restricted permit.