Domino's Pizza is beating swords into plowshares in Australia by re-purposing military training robots into autonomous pizza delivery vehicles. On March 16, Domino's Pizza Australia introduced its newest employee to the pizza-loving public, a four-wheeled, self-driving robot called the Domino's Robotic Unit (DRU for short). Designed and built over the past year in collaboration with a military robot technology startup called Marathon Robotics, DRU is based on autonomous robots used for live fire training.

Small and sturdy, DRU is just under four feet tall, weighs a little over 400 pounds, and is built from steel, aluminum, and various high-impact plastics. It can travel at speeds up to 12 miles per hour on sidewalks and over smooth terrain, and with a full charge has a maximum range of about 12 miles. To find its way around, DRU uses a combination of onboard collision sensors, LIDAR, and a GPS system powered by Google Maps. For protection from drunks, college kids, and other ne'er-do-wells, DRU has a well-secured cargo hold and mounts a number of IP cameras that will stream constantly to the cloud to record any attempted vandalism or pizza-jacking.

To summon DRU and its precious cargo of delicious pizza, a customer simply places an order as usual, then using a phone app, completes their transaction when the robot arrives at their door. DRU is even programmed to make small talk while the customer fiddles with the order app, presumably in an effort to increase the amount of its tip.

Lifehacker published a video of the little robot, showing off the clever retractable cargo area that features both heated and cooled compartments to keep your pizza hot and your soda-pop and salads cold. To calm fears about being replaced (and then, obviously ultimately destroyed) by robots, Domino's Australia states that DRU is an addition to their workforce, not a replacement for real delivery drivers.

"I think drivers are going to be around for a long time," said Domino's CEO Don Meij. "Currently we have three types of deliveries: electric bike, motorbike, and car. DRU will simply be another member of the delivery team." Domino's Australia plans to roll out DRUs in limited markets over the next six months, with a tentative full rollout within two years.

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