Driverless Domino's delivery unit possibly coming to NZ

Driverless Domino's delivery unit possibly coming to NZ

Pizza delivery drivers beware: Domino's and the Government are working on making you obsolete.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges has announced New Zealand might be one of the first countries in the world to test a driverless pizza delivery unit, dubbed DRU.

"DRU is an early prototype, but the fact that New Zealand is being considered as a test site shows we have the right settings to attract innovation," he explained.

Mr Bridges says testing new technologies and encouraging innovation is a Government priority. Over the last 12 months it has been "actively and aggressively promoting New Zealand" to win a slice of new investment into transport technology.

"Our enabling laws and regulation means we have the ideal environment to trial all forms of technology," he said.

Last year the Government rewrote New Zealand's drone rules, and a review into the laws for small driverless passenger vehicles is underway.

AA spokesperson Liam Baldwin says they are onboard with developing driverless technology -- but within reason.

"There's a great deal of interest in the concept of driverless cars, for example, and while the Domino's initiative isn't at that level, it's opportunities like this that enable us to figure out what does work and how technology can be used," Mr Baldwin said.

"We'd expect all safety issues to be considered and precautions taken, but we're relaxed about the trial and will be interested to see the results."

Mr Bridges says if the law is successful, it could open up a range of commercial opportunities -- but marketing experts aren't so sure.

Michael Lee, a senior lecturer in business at the University of Auckland says the delivery unit seems a bit too good to be true.

"Definitely marketing is part of it because if Domino's is the only pizza delivery company operating in New Zealand to use an automated drone to deliver pizza, then you'll get people ordering from Domino's simply because they want to see this driverless unit delivering a pizza up to their house."

However Domino's wouldn't be the only party benefitting from a campaign like this -- Dr Lee says the Government would likely benefit from being involved with innovative technology like this drone.

"The ability for this to set up New Zealand as a place or a hub for testing new technologies, and extending our sort of clean and green image to innovation and progressiveness and that sort of stuff -- hopefully it will be a test of things to come."

However at around $300,000 per vehicle, Dr Lee says he can't see the initiative getting off the ground.

"If these drones are co-existing happily with the population in Brisbane, but the moment that they send a drone over to NZ it gets vandalised, that is also going to be not a very good message for us to send out to the world."