Chipotle announced Thursday that the Newport Beach, Calif.-based restaurant chain would be investing in autonomous delivery company, Nuro as part of their series C round of funding. This is the first major third-party technology investment the company has made since CEO Brian Niccol took the helm in 2018.
"We are always seeking opportunities that provide innovative solutions for increasing access and convenience for our guests," Curt Garner, Chipotle’s chief technology officer said in a statement. “Nuro could change the traditional delivery model and we believe consumers are going to continue to seek options and additional access points for how and where they enjoy their food."
Nuro uses robotics to power their fleet of “R2” driverless delivery vehicles, which are designed to transport consumer goods quickly, efficiently and without the need for third-party delivery drivers.
Chipotle has not confirmed whether or not they will be implementing the technology at their own stores, but simply have stated that the investment is part of their technology “journey:”
“Our vision is for the brand to be where our customers are and provide access in any way that we can. It is too early for us to say when or where, but that is part of this journey,” Curt Garner, told Nation’s Restaurant News.
Chipotle’s digital business grew 174% in 2020, and the company says it attributes that growth partially to early investments in digital technology like their Chipotlanes and third-party delivery partnerships, and now they are looking to expand their tech reach outside of their 2020 accomplishments.
Of course, Chipotle is not the first company to invest in autonomous delivery: Domino’s announced in June 2019 that the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based pizza chain would be partnering with Nuro to conduct autonomous delivery tests in Ann Arbor, Las Vegas, and Miami with self-driving vehicles. Domino’s also tested out unmanned self-driving vehicles built specifically to carry goods in Houston the same year.
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