Domino's robot finally removes last vestiges of human contact from pizza delivery

Even though it's just a prototype for now, this robot could one day deliver pizza to you while you sit at home in your pyjamas on a Friday night. But is that really a future you want to live in?

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They see me rollin': The prototype Domino's Robotic Unit features a heated chamber for pizza and a cooled chamber for drinks.

Mike Curtain/Domino's

If you want a picture of the future, imagine a bot delivering pizza to a human face -- forever.

Maybe that's not exactly what George Orwell had in mind. In fact, we don't actually know when robots will start delivering you pizza, so put down the phone.

But Domino's is eagerly anticipating that day, revealing a prototype for an autonomous wheeled delivery bot that it says could change the way we eat.

Meet Domino's Robotic Unit -- a machine developed by Domino's team in Australia that is set to take over the jobs of awkward teens of the future.

Let's be clear. The DRU is just a prototype (and a pretty strange-looking one at that). Domino's even admits that "it won't be taking to the Australian streets tomorrow." But the pareidolic machine has been designed to "demonstrate just how serious [Domino's is] about informing regulation in this space."

That's right. Someone designed a pizza-bot, not to feed your Bacchanalian desires for melted cheese and cured meats, but to address the dry crust of regulatory policy. And yes, we'd happily sit on the Joint Steering Committee for Pizza and Robotics, thank you very much.

Unlike the time you tried to put your slice of pepperoni into the VCR, Domino's has a pretty good track record on mixing pizza and technology. The franchise has a live pizza tracker app for wearables like the Apple Watch and last year it launched a service letting customers text through a pizza emoji to make an order.

But the DRU has us asking all kinds of questions. Like, what happens on a Friday night, when young Dru is trying to meet his delivery quota and he gets attacked by hungry teens trying to crack open his brains to feast on the pizza within?

And why would humankind curse a robot to roam the earth, Tantalus-like, delivering hot pizza without ever experiencing the joy of tasting a slice?

It's not the first time a multinational has tried to play in the tech policy space. After launching its drone delivery service in the US, Amazon petitioned the Federal Aviation Administration to loosen regulation on drones and stay at the forefront of the burgeoning industry.

Now Domino's is hoping to be part of the conversation too, calling on the Australian Government to give the people what they want -- a robot that won't judge them when they order three pizzas for a solo night in.

Just don't expect it to be dropping by your place any time soon.

Do androids dream of human acceptance?

DRU has certainly got us thinking about all the other robo-prototypes that have emerged from workshops over the years, only to vanish into obscurity or be shamelessly humiliated for failing at their one job.

Hopefully Pizzoid (as we've dubbed it) will be different.

The Automato


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