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Pizza-bot! Domino's Pizza launches robotic deliveries in Houston.

Domino’s Pizza and Nuro, a Silicon Valley startup, said on Monday they're going to launch a robotic pizza delivery service in Houston in the week as they seek to satisfy increasing online orders during the pandemic.

With small, low-speed vehicles to hold packages rather than people, Nuro has been pulling before other autonomous vehicle startups in gaining regulatory approvals. It won US clearance last year to start out unmanned delivery services.

Nuro recently secured $500m including an equity investment from Woven Capital, the mobility investment arm of a Toyota subsidiary, which made its total valuation quite $5bn, an individual conversant in the matter said.

The delivery service will begin at a Domino’s outlet in Houston before expanding to serve customers in many other locations as a part of a long-term partnership, said Cosimo Leipold, Nuro’s head of partner relations.

“It’s generally difficult for giant companies to rent enough drivers to fill their delivery demand,” Leipold said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

Leipold said Nuro, which has already partnered with retailers Kroger, Walmart and CVS to deliver groceries and prescriptions, said its weekly deliveries had nearly tripled within the first three months of the pandemic.

Houston, the fourth-largest US city, has one among the country’s highest road fatality rates. “Houston’s roadways create challenging scenarios for our technology to figure with,” Leipold added.
Nuro and Domino’s had said in 2019 they expected to launch robot pizza delivery late that year. “Nuro and Domino’s have taken a measured approach to prioritize a smooth and safe deployment,” Leipold said.

Nuro, founded by two former Google engineers in 2016, previously raised $940m from the SoftBank Vision Fund.

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