Ordering A Pizza Could Help Our Self-Driving Future Take Shape
Ford has partnered with Domino's to test out self-driving delivery vehicles
A new deal between Domino’s and Ford could bring pizza to your door in a self-driving vehicle. Some pizza deliveries over the next few weeks will be driven in an autonomous car, as the two companies test out this practice on a few customers.
It’s beginning in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where the majority of self-driving vehicles are being designed, manufactured and tested. Randomly selected Domino’s customers in this area will have the option of having their pizza delivered in a Ford Fusion Hybrid autonomous research vehicle.
If the customer chooses self-driving delivery, they can watch the car’s progress all the way to their home. A text-message will be sent out upon arrival. The car has a lock that requires a specific key code—so no one can steal the pizza if you’re slow getting to the car. The customers will have to go outside and and punch in the code to get the pizza out of the car themselves.
“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,” Ford’s Vice President of Autonomous and Electric Vehicles Sherif Marakby said in a press release. “As a company focused on the customer experience, Domino’s shares our vision for a future enabled by smart vehicles in a smart environment that enhance people’s lives.”
There’s still some general distrust of self-driving cars, and Ford wants to see how deep it goes. The Domino’s test is a research opportunity that will measure how customers respond, noting whether they choose the self-driving vehicle, if they mind walking out to the vehicle instead of simply answering their door and their resulting online reviews from the experience.
Ford will also look at the best places for the car to park during a delivery and whether customers know which side of the car to approach. The trial will provide metrics on guiding people through the pizza pickup process to determine the best user interface.
“Understanding how automation will change the customer experience is a key part of how we’re building our future self-driving vehicle business because we want to apply the technology in ways that enhance people’s lives,” Markaby said. “To achieve this, we will partner with companies that specialize in the movement of people and goods.”
Markaby noted a widespread preference for ride sharing, online shopping and delivery in general. A massive growth in food delivery revenue, from $13 billion to $39 billion, is expected in the next five years, and self-driving vehicles could be a huge asset to this market.
Domino’s is, of course, interested in the marketing opportunity this test run presents. “As delivery experts, we’ve been watching the development of self-driving vehicles with great interest as we believe transportation is undergoing fundamental, dramatic change,” said Patrick Doyle, Domino’s CEO. “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.”