Pizza Hut/Toyota pair on self-driving car that might cook, too

First it was Ford and Domino's pairing to further the interests of each in autonomous delivery vehicles, now comes Pizza Hut and Toyota, who this afternoon said they're working on an initiative that may soon change not only how pizza is delivered, but possibly also how it's made, a news release said. 

The partnership is pushing off with the development of Toyota's e-Palette autonomous concept vehicle unveiled today at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The self-driving e-Palette is central to what the two brands call a "mobility service business alliance," which they said also includes Amazon, Didi, Mazda and Uber.

Earlier this year, Pizza Hut moved on delivery improvement through things like the cutting-edge delivery pouches and use of a delivery algorithm to improve delivery accuracy.

"In our ongoing and relentless pursuit to own and define the modern pizza experience for our customers, we are focused on technology-based solutions that enable our team members and drivers to deliver even better customer experiences," Pizza Hut U.S. President Artie Starrs, said in the release. "With Toyota, we are excited to be partnering with an undisputed leader in human mobility with a reputation for innovation, reliability and efficiency, as we define the pizza delivery experience of the future."

The new mobility service business alliance will leverage Toyota's proprietary Mobility Services Platform (MSPF) to develop a suite of connected mobility solutions and a flexible, purpose-built fully-autonomous vehicle. The aforementioned alliance will create a broad-based ecosystem of hardware and software support designed to help an entire range of businesses use mobility tech to serve customers. 

The e-Palette is slated for regional testing in the U.S. as early as 2020, the release said. Pizza Hut said that the e-Palette design is so flexible it could even serve as a mobile mobile kitchen in areas of the world where that venue would be best suited to consumers' needs and interests. 

"We are truly inspired to be part of this alliance, as the visions for our brand and those of Toyota are very similar," Pizza Hut International President Milind Pant, said in the release. "We are about making it easier to get a better pizza and Toyota is about providing mobility for all. Toyota is an exceptional fit as a technology partner to accelerate our commitment to the best delivery experience."

The two companies are now starting on plans to boost the current driver/delivery ecosystem by jointly testing dual communication tech early this year in Pizza Hut delivery vehicles to capture data on driver patterns and behaviors.  The idea is that more data will improve safety, company performance and delivery operations for Pizza Hut. 

Internationally, Pizza Hut recently created a startup called Pizza Hut Digital Ventures, which it says is coming up with new approaches to the pizza restaurant and delivery business worldwide. The startup, it says, recently launched a new web and app in the U.K.

Image: Provided

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability, Customer Service / Experience, Delivery, Systems / Technology

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