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Self-driving pizza delivery vehicles will hit Houston's roads later this year

Domino's and Nuro have picked Houston to launch a self-driving pizza delivery vehicle pilot program. Courtesy of Nuro and Domino's

Unmanned vehicles are taking over Houston, any way you slice it. Nuro, the robotics company specializing in commercialized self-driving cars, first entered the Houston market earlier this year with its grocery delivery partnership with Kroger. Now, the company has teamed up with Domino's Pizza to deliver an autonomous pizza delivery pilot program in Houston.

Only a select group of Houston Domino's customers will be able to have the option to choose an unmanned delivery process from the R2 vehicles. Currently, Nuro and Domino's have not revealed who will be able to use the service or when. In a news release from Domino's, the company notes that the technology will be available later this year.

"We are always looking for new ways to innovate and evolve the delivery experience for our customers," says Kevin Vasconi, Domino's executive vice president and chief information officer, in the release. "Nuro's vehicles are specially designed to optimize the food delivery experience, which makes them a valuable partner in our autonomous vehicle journey. The opportunity to bring our customers the choice of an unmanned delivery experience, and our operators an additional delivery solution during a busy store rush, is an important part of our autonomous vehicle testing."

On online orders, select customers will have the option to choose to receive delivery from one of the R2 vehicles. Once the order is in, the customers would receive a PIN code to unlock the compartment to access the pizza upon its arrival.

"We are excited to expand our autonomous delivery service in Houston with Domino's delivery," says Cosimo Leipold, Nuro's head of partner relations, in the release. "Domino's delivers millions of pizzas around the world every day, and the company shares our passion for focusing on the customer experience. We see incredible opportunity in offering Nuro's world-class autonomous technology to Domino's customers, accelerating our shared mission to transform local commerce."

Self-driving vehicles are sure to change Houston's landscape, according to Rand Stephens, managing director of the Houston office of commercial real estate services company Avison Young.

"I think forward-thinking tenants, developers, brokers, architects, and engineers will design interim solutions with lower ratios," Stephens says in another InnovationMap article. "They'll really take the time to understand the occupants' commuting patterns and steer away from one parking space for one person."

Nuro Co-Founder Jiajun Zhu and Domino's CEO Ritch Allison in front of one of Nuro's R1 vehicle.sCourtesy of Nuro and Domino's

Houston misses the "all-star" category, but it's still a job-growth overachiever. Getty Images

In terms of job growth, Houston has consistently outperformed the U.S. average in recent years, a new report finds.

The report from commercial real estate services company Cushman & Wakefield recognizes the Bayou City as one of the top metros for job growth among 35 major areas from 2009 — at the end of the Great Recession — to 2018.

For the report, Cushman & Wakefield analyzed the percentage change in job growth from 2009 to 2018 for the 35 metro areas and the number of jobs those regions added during the same period. The company's researchers then averaged those two figures to compute an overall score for each metro area.

The Bayou City added 512,400 jobs from 2009 to 2018, a growth rate of 19.9 percent, well above the national average (11 percent) — landing in the "overachievers" group of metros. Houston has an overall score of 13. In Cushman & Wakefield's assessment, the lower the number, the better.

Houston just misses the "all-stars" category, the classification the report gives six metros that each added jobs at a "breakneck pace" during the current economic expansion.

Dallas-Fort Worth ranks No. 1 on the "all-star" list, with an overall score of 5. The report shows that from 2009 to 2018, Dallas-Fort Worth added 754,200 jobs for a growth rate of 25.7 percent. Austin ranks No. 5, with an overall score of 8.5. From 2009 to 2018, Austin added 295,000 jobs for a growth rate of 38.1 percent, the largest percent increase of the metros analyzed.

In descending order, the all-star metros cited by Cushman & Wakefield are DFW; New York City and San Francisco, (each with a score of 7.5, tied for second place); Riverside-San Bernardino, California (score of 8, fourth place); Austin (8.5, fifth place); and Orlando, Florida (9, sixth place).

(While Austin registered the largest percentage increase in jobs, the growth in sheer number of jobs places it at No. 16 among the 35 metro areas for total employment growth. Once those two figures were averaged, Austin sat at No. 5 in the metro rankings.)

San Antonio, with an overall score of 18.5, also lands in the "overachievers" class.

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A version of this story originally appeared on CultureMap.