Domino’s Pizza is leading the charge in an unlikely trend of partnerships between food companies and autonomous vehicle manufacturers — and it could be a sign that larger-scale business deals between the two industries are on the way.
The past two years has seen a proliferation of trial partnerships between food brands and AV companies, according a retail trends report published by CB Insights. And if all goes well, 2019 could be the year that food companies start forming official investment deals or even acquire autonomous vehicle companies, according to the report.
Driving the trend is the notion that autonomous vehicle technology could eventually reduce the costs of human delivery.
Domino’s first partnered with Starship Technologies in March 2017 to deploy robots to deliver pizzas in Germany and the Netherlands. Then in February 2018, Domino’s partnered with Ford to test customer reactions to autonomous vehicle delivery in Miami.
In June 2018, the grocery company Kroger partnered with the autonomous vehicle delivery startup Nuro to expand its same-day delivery capabilities, according to the report. That partnership, which launched in Scottsdale, Arizona, was announced this week.
“Autonomous ground delivery vehicles can fundamentally move the needle forward by shedding the cost of human delivery drivers,” wrote CB Insights in the report.
“While still in early stages, if grocery retailers’ autonomous ground delivery trials succeed, we may see direct investments or acquisitions of AV startups by grocery retailers going forward,” reads the report.