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Pizza is fuelling innovation

Nuro’s self-driving vehicle is a little robot that will soon start hauling pizza around Houston. Image credit: Domino

According to the 2018 Pizza Power Report the worldwide business of selling pizzas has reached 134B$, 3 billion pizzas have been eaten last year in the US, over 30 billions in the world. That’s not bad for something that started as a slice of bread with some tomatoes and cheese. It is not just a huge market, it is a growing market in the double digit (with the exception of Western Europe and Russia where the growth is in the single digit).

Therefore, it shouldn’t be a surprise that pizza fuels innovation both in creating new exotic toppings and, more important to this discussion, in the value chain. Clearly mom and pop biz tend to focus their creativity on pizza toppings whilst the big chains (Domino’s, Pizza Hut,…) are focussing on pizza making and delivery.

Domino’s has been experimenting with automated home grocery delivery in a few cities in the US (starting in 2017 in Ann Arbor using Ford autonomous vehicles) and has announced the plan to use Nuro (see photo) to haul pizza to Houston’s homes. Nuro is a fully autonomous delivery robot that can be loaded with hot pizzas to be delivered to peoples home. In the trial it will be monitored by a car (with a human driver) since Nuro cannot accommodate a stand-by driver.

France, considered by many the synonym for good food (I beg to object being Italian…), is seeing the deployment of robots to make pizzas (see clip). EKIM, a start up planning to lead the food “robolution” made in France is developing robots that can be used by small pizza making store. Their robot, PAZZI, has been deigned to operate in front of the customer preparing the pizza on demand, as a true “pizzaiolo”.

Of course, innovation is happening also at customer fingertips. Basically all pizza chains have their own app to let you explore their pizzas and most will let you customise the toppings n any way you like and place the order. What if you are on a big cruise ships and feel the urge to have a pizza there and then? No worry. Carnival Cruise has created a “pizza anywhere” app that let’s you design your own pizza everywhere you are on the ship you tap on the ship location to show where you are and take a selfie to identify yourself and that’s it,  In a short while somebody will rush to you delivering a piping hot pizza. Yes, life is good!

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.