Today saw the announcement of a new partnership, one that will undoubtedly have pizza deliverymen everywhere worried: the Ford Motor Company is teaming up with Domino’s Pizza to test self-driving pizza delivery cars.
Specifically, the tests will be used to gauge how customers feel about interacting with self-driving pizza delivery cars and are scheduled to start in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in the coming weeks.
Randomly selected Domino’s customers living in the Ann Arbor area will be given the option of accepting their pizza delivery from a Ford Fusion Hybrid autonomous research car.
Those who choose to participate in the test will be given a unique code that matches the last four digits of their phone number, enabling them to unlock the car’s Heatwave Compartment container located in the back of the car.
The Heatwave Compartment, as expected, keeps the deliveries hot and safe when the car is on the road, and delivery information will be communicated with the customer via speakers and screens on the exterior of the car.
Ford and Domino’s self-driving tests won’t be fully autonomous, at least not for the time being, as the cars will be driven by a Ford safety engineer joined onboard by a team of researchers.
Their focus is the last 50 feet of the customer experience i.e. from the moment the delivery car arrives at the property to the moment it departs, and both companies expect to glean a whole heap of useful information from the tests, namely how ready the world is for self-driving deliveries.
Ford has heavily invested in self-driving technology over the past few years and rightly sees autonomous vehicles as the future of transport, while Domino’s Pizza itself is no stranger to technical progress and is investigating new delivery methods like autonomous delivery robots in locations across the world.
It will be interesting to see how Domino’s Ann Arbor customers react to the self-driving delivery cars and if the vehicles run into any serious problems during the tests.