The last 50 feet of the delivery is the main focus of Domin's Pizza and Ford Motor Co. The companies have partnered to test self-driving car pizza delivery. Ford plans to roll out the first driverless business vehicles in about five years, and Domino's has signed on to test their viability for food delivery, according to a press release.
"We're interested to learn what people think about this type of delivery," Domino's USA President Russell Weiner, said in the release. "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."
Over the next several weeks, randomly selected Domino’s customers in the brand's headquarters city of Ann Arbor, Michigan, can opt to get delivery from a Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle. The test cars will actually be manually driven by a Ford safety engineer and staffed with researchers, according to the release.
"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?"
The collaboration will have strong ripple effects since it will be one of the first scientific field tests of these automobiles measuring customer reception.
"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," Domino's President and CEO Patrick Doyle, said in the release. "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."
Ford wants to begin self-driving car production in 2021, and as such, is conducting the kind of research now that will answer customers' questions about what can only be called a globally transformative technology.
"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 Vice President of Autonomous and Electric Vehicles Sherif Marakby, said in the 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."
Participating Ann Arbor customers can also track the delivery vehicle through GPS using an upgraded version of the company's delivery-tracking technology, Domino's Tracker. They will also receive text messages as the self-driving vehicle 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.
The special Roush Enterprises-fabricated pizza container prototype is a spin-off of the one used with the Domino's DXP delivery vehicle two years ago. In fact, preliminary tests of the self-driving delivery car were recently completed at the University of Michigan simulated urban test environment, Mcity.
As of press time, Domino's had not responded to inquiries from Pizza Marketplace.
Photo: Provided by Domino's