With so much talk of self-driving cars and robots who can complete human tasks, it seems it’s only a matter of time before human pizza delivery is a thing of the past.
In an attempt to further hasten the disappearance of that job sector, Pizza Hut and Toyota collaborated on a self-driving concept vehicle that looks like it’s straight out of the post-apocalyptic sequences in a Terminator movie. The nonsensically-named “e-palette” made its debut at the annual Consumer Electronics Show, and it’s expected to hit the streets in 2020.
Not only will this shiny, chrome toaster on wheels deliver pizza (no word on how the final handoff is supposed to take place), but it sounds like there will be onboard ovens to cook the pies en route. The whole thing seems like an attempt to steal back the pizza innovation crown from Dominos, who have teased drone deliveries and backseat ovens in recent times. For now, Pizza Hut says it will spend 2018 collecting data from delivery vehicles to improve efficiency and safety, which will likely be fed into whatever algorithm guides the e-pallete from Pizza Hut to your door.
“We are focused on technology-based solutions that enable our team members and drivers to deliver even better customer experiences," Pizza Hut US president Artie Starrs told Business Insider. "With Toyota, we are excited to be partnering with an undisputed leader in human mobility with a reputation for innovation, reliability and efficiency, as we define the pizza delivery experience of the future."
Of course, the end goal of the “e-palette” is to reduce the number of Pizza Hut’s team members by eliminating the need for human mobility, but tomato sauce, tomahto sauce, I suppose.
In the two years before this robot-powered oven hits the streets, expect plenty of people and pizza brands like DiGiornio—who have never had to pretend to care about the welfare of delivery drivers—to poke fun at the concept.