Chipotle invests in delivery robot company Nuro

A Nuro self-driving robot drives down a city street.

Written by James Shea

Chipotle Mexican Grill is investing in Nuro, a company that develops and manufactures autonomous delivery vehicles. It is the first significant investment for Chipotle in a third-party technology since CEO Brian Niccol took the helm in 2018, according to the company.

Historically, Chipotle has not been known as a leader in restaurant technology, but the company has quickly expanded into the digital sector. The company added curbside pickup this year. It started with a pilot project in California and was eventually rolled out across the country. The company has seen its digital reward program grow during the pandemic, and in November, it started testing ghost kitchens in New York state. Orders must be placed through the restaurant’s app. and are either picked up by the customer or delivered.

Chipotle’s digital business grew over 174 percent in 2020, and companywide, the company has reported that about half of its orders over the last year have been for delivery.

Chipotle says that expanding access and convenience to its digital ecosystem is a strategic priority and a reason for the investment. Like many companies in the food business, Chipotle is exploring opportunities outside of the traditional third-party delivery system.

“We are always seeking opportunities that provide innovative solutions for increasing access and convenience for our guests,” Chipotle CTO Curt Garner said. “Nuro could change the traditional delivery model, and we believe consumers are going to continue to seek options and additional access points for how and where they enjoy their food.”

Nuro operates a fleet of autonomous vehicles that are designed to deliver everyday goods. The company was recently given a permit to operate the vehicles on public streets in California and announced a partnership with CVS. It completed a $500 million round of funding in November.

“Nuro and Chipotle share the same commitment to improving everyday life through innovative products, whether it’s through responsibly sourced food or autonomous delivery vehicles,” Nuro founder and President Dave Ferguson said. “With financial and strategic support from world-class companies like Chipotle, we can continue to advance our industry-leading autonomous technology, grow our team and expand our delivery service.”

The amount of the investment was not announced.

Other articles you may like

Online grocery sales increase 17%

Online grocery sales increase 17%

Inflation has impacted the entire food and beverage sector, and the grocery industry is no exception. According to the...