Domino's training reindeer to deliver pizzas in Japan

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Domino's is taking a page out of Santa's book on efficient winter transportation.

The global pizza chain, which has already invested in high-tech delivery methods like autonomous robots, drones, “zero-click” ordering apps and satellite tracking to deliver food, is now training reindeer to transport pies.

Yes, reindeer.

Reindeer delivery may be part of a contingency plan for Domino’s Japan ahead of what is expected to be a particularly cold and snowy winter, RocketNews24 reports.

The chain is attempting a trial period for performing training exercises in the city of Ishikari-- a particularly ice-prone area in Hokkaido-- to figure out if its reindeer delivery initiative is feasible. The technique will involve insulated pizza containers strapped to the animals’ backs.

Delivery tests, Domino’s says, are monitored by animal trainers. The trials are taking place on the grounds of a driving school.

This unusual method for transporting pizzas is just one of several delivery methods being tested by the chain. In March, Domino’s unveiled the world’s first autonomous pizza delivery drone.

The Domino’s Robotic Unit (DRU) utilizes pop-up storage compartments for hot foods and cold drinks. Humans just need to load the bot and then set a destination. Obstacle avoidance technology keeps it from running into anything en route to the consumer. The first unit was tested in the Queensland, Australia in a semi-autonomous mode that allowed humans to set it back on track if anything went wrong.

Dealing with live animals, however, could prove more difficult than pre-programmed drones, the chain acknowledged. Domino’s says additional details about the initiative will be announced Thursday.