Self-driving cars seem nice, but an Australian tech startup that usually builds robotic targets for live-fire military training has just announced what we've really been waiting for: a pizza-delivery robot, courtesy of Domino's, reports Engadget. Meet DRU (Domino's Robotic Unit), an autonomous 3-foot-tall delivery vehicle (currently in prototype stage) that's most aptly described by NBC News as "half Wall-E, half baby carriage, with a sprinkling of R2-D2." Developed by Marathon Targets, DRU is powered by LIDAR—the same technology self-driving cars employ—and scoots around with the assistance of its built-in GPS system, which is hooked up with Google Maps. The four-wheel device can carry out a bunch of deliveries within a 20-mile radius on a single charge, zips along at a maximum 12.5mph, and can hold up to 10 pizzas in its heated compartment, the Verge and Lifehacker Australia report.
How it works: Once an order is placed, DRU maps out the customer's address and putters on over, using its sensors to avoid obstacles. When DRU arrives curbside, the customer will be able to open the locked compartments with a special code sent via smartphone. To further deter pizza poachers, the units come equipped with cameras to record any attempts at theft. Because of its speed limitations and local transport rules, DRU can currently only travel on smaller lanes and paths (no major thoroughfares or highways), so it will first be tested in small neighborhoods in Australia and New Zealand; customers should expect to see the robots take to the streets within the next six months. Due to logistical, technical, and legal hurdles, it may be at least two years before they become an everyday sight. (Another modern wonder: Domino's cars with pizza ovens.)