If there is one thing we got good at in the past year, it is doing things at home that we used to do elsewhere.
We learned to work from home.
We learned to go to school from home.
We learned to visit our doctor from home.
We even learned to eat out at home.
That doesn’t make sense on the surface, I know. But we still wanted restaurant food, so we relied heavily on takeout and delivery.
We would place our orders by phone or online, and then the delivery person would bring the food, ring the doorbell and step back to keep a proper distance.
Just like everything else in the Roaring 2020s, it looks as if even pizza delivery is about to be transformed …
It may not be R2-D2 delivering your pizza, but it’s getting closer to that. It’s more like R2 at the moment.
Domino’s Pizza (NYSE:DPZ), the largest pizza company in the world, recently introduced self-driving delivery robots for select customers in Houston, Texas.
Making those deliveries is the R2 robot developed by Nuro. It’s the first driverless and completely autonomous on-road delivery vehicle approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
It works as you would expect. Customers order online, select delivery by R2 and then receive text alerts with updates on the robot’s location, which they can also track through GPS. Customers receive a PIN number, and when the R2 pulls up with their pizza, they enter the code on the touchscreen, wait for the door to open and receive their pizza.
FedEx has Roxo, which is designed to make deliveries within three to five miles of a retailer’s location. Order a pair of shorts for the cookout the next morning, and you should have them at your door in time for dinner.
Roxo can work on sidewalks, in bike lanes or on the side of the road. It has an array of sensors so it can “see” 360 degrees, and operators can take over and communicate with people around it through a speaker and microphone.
And Amazon’s robot is called the Scout. Scouts are currently being followed by employees, but they are also autonomous and follow their delivery route.
As you would expect, these robots rely on cameras, sensors and sophisticated technology like next-generation 5G networks and LiDAR technology to operate safely and correctly. They also employ machine learning to detect obstacles in the way, map out a safe path and observe road and safety rules.
LiDAR is big in autonomous vehicles (AVs) of all sizes. It is an acronym for “light detection and ranging.” Light pulses off surrounding objects — cars, pedestrians, curbs, etc. — and then returns to a sensor that calculates distance to the object based on how long it took the pulse to return. Repeating this process millions of times per second creates a precise, real-time 3D map of the surrounding environment.
This would be impossible without the revolutionary 5G wireless networks now being deployed around the world. They are fast and reliable — both of which are critical factors.
Imagine a self-driving car traveling down the highway at 75 miles per hour and the network suddenly experiences a 100-millisecond delay. In any other circumstance, that delay would never be noticed, but it could be devasting in an AV. It could result in the braking system stopping the vehicle 10 feet beyond where it would have otherwise … potentially resulting in a major accident.
The full rollout of the 5G network will provide the essential communications infrastructure for auto manufacturers to introduce AVs to the masses.
Disruption is one of my major themes for the Roaring 2020s. Trillions of dollars slosh around in major disruptions like Transportation 2.0, of which 5G is a part. Not only will pizzas be brought safely to their destinations by an autonomous vehicle … one day you will be, too.
This is just the beginning of what’s possible in the years ahead. This enormous technological shift that is 5G is just getting underway, and early investors stand to make fortunes.
On the date of publication, Matthew McCall did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article.
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