Chipotle invests in robot delivery firm Nuro

  • April 13, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

Restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill has invested in California-based Nuro, a specialist in autonomous delivery, as part of its series C funding round.

Nuro uses robotics in its fleet of on-road, occupantless and autonomous vehicles to deliver everyday consumer goods. This is the first significant investment in a third-party technology company the organisation has made since Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol took the helm in 2018.

Expanding access and convenience through Chipotle’s digital ecosystem is a strategic priority for the company. Chipotle’s digital business grew over 174% year over year in 2020, with about half of the digital sales coming from delivery.

Early investments in digital innovation have provided a competitive advantage operationally with digital kitchens and the brand’s Chipotlanes. Now the organisation is exploring opportunities outside of traditional third-party partnerships.

“We are always seeking opportunities that provide innovations for increasing access and convenience for our guests,” said Curt Garner, chief technology officer. “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.”

Dave Ferguson, Nuro president, added: “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. 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.”

In addition to increasing access in the USA, Chipotle recently announced it will be expanding its footprint in Canada with new restaurant openings over the next year. Additionally, Chipotle recently added its first-ever customisable digital entrée, the hand-crafted quesadilla, to the Chipotle app.

Chipotle has more than 2750 restaurants in the USA, Canada, UK, France and Germany and is said to be the only restaurant company of its size that owns and operates all its restaurants. It has nearly 88,000 employees. Steve Ells, founder, first opened Chipotle with a single restaurant in Denver, Colorado, in 1993.

Nuro specialises in autonomous delivery using robotics. The company’s fleet of on-road, autonomous vehicles are designed to deliver everyday goods to consumers in a way that is quick, affordable and safe.