Toyota, Pizza Hut partner on pizza-cooking, hydrogen powered pickup

Toyota, Pizza Hut partner on pizza-cooking, hydrogen powered pickup

One-off vehicle uses twin Nachi robots, equipped with Schunk grippers, to cook pies en route to customers' homes.

October 31, 2018

Cleveland, Ohio – Following a trail blazed by Ford and General Motors, Toyota is jumping into the make-a-better-pizza game with a specialty Tundra pickup equipped with dual robots, a refrigerator, and an oven.

When an order comes in, one robot pulls a pizza out of the fridge and sets it on the oven’s conveyor belt. Once it’s done cooking, the second robot removes it and slices it into six even pieces, boxes it, and hands it to the customer.

Clearly, this will revolutionize food delivery, allowing Pizza Hut to cook pies en route instead of having to keep them warm for 30-minute (or less). Toyota includes a custom off-road suspension system on the truck – to keep the medium pepperonis from bouncing around too much while they cook?

Oh, to make it more practical, ready for today’s pizza-starved markets, it’s powered by a hydrogen fuel cell taken from the Toyota Mirai zero-emissions car. Because if there’s anything that pizza lovers hate more than 26-minute-old dinners, it’s carbon emissions.

To be fair, the Tundra PIE Pro is not a serious product about to enter the market. It’s a one-off special edition made for the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas this week. Toyota partnered with Pizza Hut on the project. Nachi Robotics in Novi, Michigan, engineered

For those interested in technical specs:

  • CNC Machining: Scarbo Performance
  • Powertrain: Toyota Fuel Cell System (TFCS), permanent magnet AC synchronous electric motor, sealed nickel-metal hydride (NI-MH) w/ 34 cell modules
  • Robots: Nachi Robotics Systems MZ07 CFD, MZ07L CFD six-axis articulating arms
  • Robot tools: Schunk MPG series 24VDC grippers
  • Oven: TurboChef HHC 1618 high-speed conveyor

Schunk Vice President of Sales for Automation Tom Reek said the robotics accessories company plays a vital role in feeding Pizza Hut fans.

"To fabricate the perfect pizza you need to use the best products. High quality dough, sauce, and toppings, and superior gripping by Schunk to make sure you don’t drop your pie in the back of the truck. Our grippers can’t be topped."

For some reason, automakers often think pizza when they’re working on new technologies.

Ford built autonomous Fusion vehicles for Domino’s that deliver pizzas from the store to the customer’s driveway – a fatal flaw in the system in my opinion because it would force me to leave my house to get my food. Hey, when you’re ordering pizza for delivery, laziness is part of what you’re paying for.

And General Motors designed specialty editions of the Spark subcompact for Domino’s. The most practical of the custom-pizza vehicles, that one removed passenger seating and other creature comforts to make room for a warming oven.

What’s the connection between hydrogen fuel cells and bubbling mozzarella? Ed Laukes, group vice president of Toyota Division Marketing, offers this non-explanation explanation.

“As the flagship Toyota truck, the Tundra is a workhorse in the truest sense. Its great strengths are its extreme capability and eminent versatility, and what better way to illustrate that than by turning it into something completely unique – a hydrogen fuel cell electric-powered, pizza-making robotic vehicle!”

About the author: Robert Schoenberger is the editor of Today's Motor Vehicles and a contributor to Today's Medical Developments and Aerospace Manufacturing and Design. He has written about the automotive industry for more than 18 years at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio; The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky; and The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi.