Back in July, we reported on the ongoing race to introduce driver-less pizza delivery vehicles. At the time, Domino's looked to have a slight lead on its closest competitor. While Pizza Hut had hinted at its ambitious plans for an oven on wheels, Domino's had already conducted 100 test deliveries. 2018 has also seen Domino's surpass its rival in total sales for the the first time ever.

Last week, however, Pizza Hut turned up the heat once again. At Toyota's Specialty Equipment Market Association Show presentation, the Yum! Foods company unveiled the PIE Pro. Combining a pizza oven, a robotic chef, and a Toyota Tundra, the PIE Pro is a zero-emission vehicle that Pizza Hut hopes will "accelerate [their] commitment to transform both the team member and customer experience at Pizza Hut."

The PIE Pro's refrigerator, pair of computer-guided arms, and portable conveyor oven promise to break new ground for both speed and sustainability in the pizza kitchen. Powered by a "hydrogen fuel-cell electric powertrain," the vehicle can cook, cut, and box a pizza in as little as six minutes. By taking the kitchen mobile, Pizza Hut intends to "expand its delivery radius without compromising the quality of the pizza."

In a press release, Pizza Hut's Chief Brand Officer, Marianna Radley, expresses her enthusiasm. "The Tundra PIE Pro," she says, "brings to life our passion for innovation not just on our menu but in digital and delivery in order to provide the best possible customer experience."

While the PIE Pro eliminates one key link in the pizza supply chain (the chef), it is not a driver-less vehicle. Pizza Hut is open to further advancements, but a human driver is currently responsible for piloting the truck and keeping the on-board kitchen stocked with pizzas. For the time being, this should help Pizza Hut quiet some of the concerns regarding both job elimination and safety.

The Plano, Texas-based company intends to kick off test deliveries in the coming months. Their statements make it clear that the PIE Pro is decidedly a work in progress. Chief Operations Officer Nicolas Burquier remarks, "We're going to play with this prototype and then figure out what we can learn in order to build the future of our processes and our systems."

Supply Chain Dive notes that, if nothing else, the PIE Pro has boundless potential as a "marketing tool." Though it's currently losing the sales battle to Domino's, Pizza Hut could leverage this flashy kitchen on wheels to frame itself as the most innovative player in the delivery pizza space.

Toyota is among the dozens of industry leaders that'll join Source One's Marketing Procurement experts at ProcureCon Marketing later this month.  Perhaps the PIE Pro will figure into their conversations around disruption and emerging technologies.
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