- Pizza Hut has partnered with FedEx to test the new FedEx SameDay Bot, an autonomous delivery device, during the summer, according to a press release. The companies are waiting for final city approvals before announcing all the select markets for the pilot.
- The bot, which was developed by FedEx and DEKA Research and Development Corp., will assist existing delivery staff to improve efficiency and delivery.
- It has proprietary technology that will help it navigate unpaved surfaces, curbs and steps to provide door-to-door service.
Pizza Hut's latest tech innovation continues the escalation of the delivery wars among both the largest pizza chains and third-party companies like Uber Eats. Its same-day delivery bots comes out just months after it debuted a pick-up truck with a pizza making robot. With this partnership with FedEx, Pizza Hut becomes the first national pizza chain to test robots, which could give the company an edge, especially if it rolls out these devices across the country.
The company, however, has its work cut out for itself. Delivery companies, including Postmates and DoorDash, are already testing the use of bots of late, especially on college campuses where the grounds are easier to navigate and regulations less stringent. Bots will become an important aspect of delivery in general in the coming years since they allow for small order delivery and shorter routes without needing to send a bike courier or driver. The robot delivery market is expected to triple by 2024 reaching $34 million, with North America expected to have the largest share of the robots.
While bot testing is new, experimenting with technology to improve customer service and food quality is not. Domino's has long called itself a tech company that happens to deliver pizza, trying out new strategies like driverless vehicles and using AI to help make orders more efficient.
Pizza Hut's parent company YUM is also focusing on its digital future, looking for a senior leader, whose role will, in part, be to leverage technology to drive sales for franchisees and likely lead to more innovations. The chain also plans to partner with Grubhub (following YUM’s $200 million investment in the third-party delivery company) to use its delivery platform while still maintaining the pizzeria delivery drivers.
The company is also investing $90 million as part of its Transformation Agreement with Pizza Hut franchisees, who will receive upgrades to equipment that will improve operations as well as improvements to technology and enhancements to digital and e-commerce capabilities, according to YUM’s 2018 yearend earnings report filed with the SEC.