Domino’s, Ford to trial self-driving vehicles for pizza delivery
Selected customers will receive their delivery order from a Ford Fusion hybrid autonomous research vehicle, which will be manually-driven by a safety engineer
Domino’s Pizza and Ford Motor announced the launch of a collaboration process to understand the role that self-driving vehicles can play in pizza delivery.
As part of the testing, researchers from both companies will investigate customer reactions to interacting with a self-driving vehicle as a part of their delivery experience. The two firms said that this research is important as they begin to examine and understand customers’ perspectives around the future of food delivery with self-driving vehicles.
Over the next weeks, randomly-selected Domino’s customers in Ann Arbor, Michigan, will have the opportunity to receive their delivery order from a Ford Fusion hybrid autonomous research vehicle, which 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 Domino’s Tracker.
Customers 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 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,” said Russell Weiner, president of Domino’s USA. “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.”
“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 president and CEO. “This is the first step in an ongoing process of testing that we plan to undertake with Ford.”
Ford aims to begin production of self-driving vehicles in 2021. The car maker is taking steps to design a business to meet 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,” said Sherif Marakby, Ford vice president, autonomous and electric vehicles. “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.”