Chipotle Invests In Driverless Delivery Company Nuro

Chipotle Mexican Grill

Chipotle Mexican Grill has invested in autonomous delivery company Nuro as part of the firm’s Series C funding round, the restaurant chain announced Thursday (March 25).

It is the first major investment in a third-party tech company Chipotle has made since Brian Niccol became chairman and CEO in 2018.

Last year saw Chipotle’s digital business grow more than 174 percent, with half of those sales coming for deliveries. The chain has already invested in things like digital kitchens, and is now “exploring disruptive opportunities outside of traditional partnerships,” Chipotle said in the news release announcing the investment.

Enter Nuro, a company that uses robotics in its fleet of on-road, autonomous and driverless vehicles to deliver consumer goods.

“We are always seeking opportunities that provide innovative solutions for increasing access and convenience for our guests,” Chipotle Chief Technology Officer Curt Garner said in the release. “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.”

In an interview with PYMNTS last year, Chipotle Vice President of Digital Strategy and Product Management Nicole West spoke about the chain’s efforts to improve the digital experience. That included things like adding Uber Eats and Grubhub to its third-party delivery options, along with adding a group-ordering feature to its own app.

Chipotle’s investment in Nuro follows the $500 million in Series C funding the robotics company raised in 2020.

As PYMNTS reported last November, Nuro has unveiled two versions of its autonomous delivery vehicle, including R2, the first driverless vehicle to receive an autonomous vehicle exemption from the federal government and the first of its kind to drive on public roads in three different states: Arizona, California and Texas.

Nuro has also announced a partnership with Walmart for autonomous grocery delivery, using both the R2 and Toyota Priuses outfitted with Nuro software.