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03/25/2021

Chipotle drives innovation forward with robotic delivery investment

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Chipotle

Chipotle Mexican Grill is diversifying its digital presence by investing in autonomous delivery vehicle provider Nuro.

The fast-casual restaurant chain has invested in Nuro as part of the self-driving technology company’s Series C funding round. Nuro’s autonomous vehicles are being piloted for autonomous delivery by retailers including CVS, Walmart, Domino’s, and Kroger.

Chipotle's digital business grew over 174% year over year in 2020, with about half of the digital sales coming from delivery. The company has been actively engaged in technology innovation projects during the past 12 months, including mobile carside pickup, a digital-only store prototype, digital order customization, and a Facebook Messenger concierge bot

The retailer’s latest step toward digital transformation is the first significant investment in a third-party technology company it has made since chairman and CEO Brian Niccol took the helm in 2018. Chipotle did not disclose the amount of its investment in Nuro.

"We are always seeking opportunities that provide innovative solutions for increasing access and convenience for our guests," said Curt Garner, CTO, Chipotle Mexican Grill. "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."

Chipotle had over 2,750 restaurants as of Dec. 31, 2020, in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., France, and Germany, and is the only restaurant company of its size that owns and operates all its restaurants.