Starship, launched in July 2014 by two former Skype co-founders, Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis, will whisk pizzas to customers’ doors if they live within a one-mile radius of certain Dominos pizza shops in “select German and Dutch cities”, the company said.
Domino’s Pizza Enterprises, the world’s largest franchise licence owner of Domino’s Pizza, with operations in markets across Asia and Europe, has formed a group called Domino’s Robotic Unit to oversee the project.
Domino’s has tested ground-based autonomous vehicles for pizza delivery in Australia and New Zealand in 2016. In November it also delivered a pizza by drone in New Zealand.
“With our growth plans over the next five to 10 years, we simply won’t have enough delivery drivers if we do not look to add to our fleet through initiatives such as this,” Domino’s Pizza Enterprises chief executive Don Meij said.
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Starship’s battery-powered robot is designed to operate autonomously on sidewalks, not roads, and has a maximum speed of about 6km/h carrying loads up to 10kg.
Its cargo hold, which customers unlock with a code sent to their mobile phones, is insulated and the pizzas will also be placed inside a special hot or cold bag.