Mexican chain restaurant Chipotle has invested in Nuro, an autonomous delivery startup, as part of the company’s Series C funding.
This is the first significant investment in a third-party technology company Chipotle has made since 2018. Terms of the investment were not disclosed.
Chipotle said expanding access to the company’s food via a digital ecosystem has become a strategic priority as its digital business grew more than 174% in 2020 year-over-year, with about half of this coming from delivery. Now the company is seeking to look to technology outside of the normal channels through third-party partnerships.
"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,” said Curt Garner, CTO of Chipotle.
Nuro produces autonomous shuttles that do not have a driver or traditional cockpit but carry instead compartments that carry goods, which can be used for packages, food or other delivery items.
This investment follows this month’s investment from Woven Capital, an investment wing of Toyota, to invest in Nuro as part of its goals to advance the work in designing and engineering self-driving road vehicles to transform local commerce through autonomous delivery.
Nuro was very active in 2020 with an agreement with CVS to use its R2 autonomous delivery vans to bring prescriptions and other essentials across three zip codes in Houston, Texas. Nuro was also one of the first company’s to get approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for a regulator exemption to use the vehicles without any safety driver.