New self-driving robot pizza trucks could be with us by 2020

In bad news for technophobes everywhere, Pizza Hut have become the latest business to embrace the idea of driverless vehicles. For the first time, hungry fast food lovers can expect their pizza to get from A-Z without the need for a human. Despite the now very real possibility of crust covered car collisions, the idea has been received with great enthusiasm.

For all the excitement, the new announcement caused a few raised eyebrows among fans of Netflix series “Black Mirror”. The bleakly dystopian show addressed the subject of driverless pizza in a recent episode in typically dark fashion. Without revealing any spoilers, the vehicles find themselves embroiled in a gruesome accident rather than successfully delivering dinner. Clearly, Pizza Hut failed to get this particular memo.

The concept is the result of a venture between the fast food giants and Japanese car tycoons Toyota. Earlier this month, Toyota debuted the “e-Palette Concept Vehicle” at The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The car has been designed to be able to function for both transportation and business purposes, making the machine flexible as well as scary.

Though the slightly madcap design might look as though the engineers have managed to breed a lorry with a toaster, Pizza Hut are nonetheless very confident of their latest contraption’s capabilities. Not only will the vehicles drive themselves, but they will also accommodate cooking gear and ingredients, theoretically allowing pizzas to be cooked in transit.

The idea of self-driving cars has not been acclaimed by everybody. Many are complaining that removing people from the cockpit is not only dangerous, but also puts the jobs of delivery drivers everywhere at risk. However, a Pizza Hut spokesman declared that the new machines could actually “create more jobs by opening the pool of ‘drivers’ to those who do not own vehicles.” The suggestion is that “they might act more as servers, focusing more on hospitality”.

The reason for Pizza Hut’s enthusiasm over the new concept is perhaps more pragmatic than it may first seem. While the business has a history of incorporating new technology, last year unveiling a cutting edge pizza delivery bag designed to keep food 15 degrees hotter than usual, there is also professional rivalry to consider. Earlier this year it was announced that Dominos have joined forces with Ford to themselves introduce a driverless delivery vehicle. With a design that seems significantly more orthodox than Pizza Hut’s toaster on wheels, it looks as though the battle for global pizza dominance is being taken to the streets.

It’s not just the fast food industry that have recognized the potential of Toyota’s driverless vehicles. The “e-Palette Partnership” also involves Amazon and Uber, all of whom have had their interest peaked by the concept. With such big names backing the technology, it seems as though it’s only a matter of time before driverless cars clog up our roads.

Toyota hope to begin testing the cars in early 2020. With many other car manufacturers competing for space in the marketplace, delivery drivers of all sorts may soon be a thing of the past. Despite the warnings of "Black Mirror", robotic pizza looks to be more of a certainty than ever before.

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