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Domino’s Pizza has teamed up with Ford to test how self-driving cars can play their part in pizza delivery.
As part of the testing, researchers will look at how customers in the US feel about about receiving their pizza in a car without a delivery driver.
Domino’s has been watching the development of self-driving vehicles with great interest. Patrick Doyle, Domino’s president and CEO, says: “We pride ourselves on being technology leaders and are excited to help lead research into how self-driving vehicles may play a role in the future of pizza delivery. This is the first step in an ongoing process of testing that we plan to undertake with Ford.”
Meanwhile, Ford, which plans to begin production of self-driving cars in 2021, is trying to design a business which meets the needs of both partner companies and their customers.
“As we increase our understanding of the business opportunity for self-driving vehicles to support the movement of people and goods, we’re pleased to have Domino’s join us in this important part of the development process,” says Sherif Marakby, Ford vice president of autonomous and electric vehicles.
Over the next few weeks, randomly-selected Domino’s customers in Ann Arbor, Michigan, will receive their delivery order from a Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle.
The car will be manually-driven by a Ford safety engineer and staffed with researchers. Customers who agree to participate will be able to track the delivery vehicle through GPS using an upgraded version of the Domino’s Tracker app. They will also receive text messages as the car approaches that will guide them on how to retrieve their pizza using a unique code to unlock the Domino’s heatwave compartment inside the vehicle.
“We’re interested to learn what people think about this type of delivery,” says Russell Weiner, president of Domino’s in the US. “The majority of our questions are about the last 50 feet of the delivery experience. For instance, how will customers react to coming outside to get their food?
“We need to make sure the interface is clear and simple. We need to understand if a customer’s experience is different if the car is parked in the driveway versus next to the curb. All of our testing research is focused on our goal to someday make deliveries with self-driving vehicles as seamless and customer-friendly as possible.”
When will UK customers experience this futuristic delivery method?
Ford and Domino’s completed preliminary testing of the delivery process using the vehicle in self-driving mode at Mcity, the simulated urban environment on the University of Michigan’s campus.
The service is only being tested in the US for now, but, according to Domino’s, it’s only a matter of time before the UK is able to experience this method of delivery too.
Last year, the pizza chain unveiled plans to deliver pizzas using self-driving robots in Europe.