Last month we heard about DRU, the Domino's delivery robot that's getting a trial run in Australia.
The idea may seem silly, but some new restaurant industry numbers highlight the growing importance of food delivery in an age when consumers expect online ordering and rapid to-their-door service. As consumers get more comfortable with autonomous delivery (which is on the way, despite lots of skepticism), a restaurant industry that already uses state of the art logistics services could begin adding delivery robots to their operations in the next decade.
But let's talk pizza.
According to information provided by 1010data, our hunger for the pies is growing. Domino's, Pizza Hut, and Papa John's combined to account for 45.1% of total food delivery sales, up from 40.3% in 2014. And of the big three pizza houses, Pizza Hut is averaging the largest order size at $21.60. Meanwhile, Papa John's tallies an average order of $18.45 and Domino's is almost 20% less than Pizza Hut at $17.34.
Which explains Domino's push to get pizza out the door quickly (and grab some headlines while doing it).
Overall, the takeout and delivery market is worth about $70bn, and with streaming services like Netflix keeping people at home during dinner hours, that number is likely to grow. The king of home food delivery is Seamless, accounting for 18.8% of total dollars in the sector in 2015.
The growth of home delivery coincides with the rise of autonomous mobile technology. You can have a toothbrush delivered by one of Savioke's Relay robots in several hotels in the U.S., and the logistics industry is undergoing a transformation as older tape and laser guided materials handling vehicles are replaced with smart autonomous carts that plan paths and roam warehouses.
If the Domino's robot works, expect to see other companies try out their own weird delivery solutions. I suspect Seamless in particular, which grew up on technology and makes a killing on the margins, is paying close attention. Soon Silicon Valley may have a new elevator pitch: "It's like Uber, for food, with robots."