Ford driverless cars to deliver Domino's pizzas

Ford driverless cars to deliver Domino's pizzas
© Courtesy of Ford

Some Domino’s customers in Michigan may soon be getting their pizzas delivered by a self-driving car.

Domino’s Pizza and Ford Motor Co. announced Tuesday that they are teaming up to test how consumers will react to having their orders delivered by an autonomous vehicle, as a number of companies explore how to integrate the emerging technology into their business models.

Ford has promised to build a fully driverless car by 2021, while Domino’s hopes to someday replace all of its drivers with driverless cars.

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“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’s vice president for autonomous and electric vehicles.

Starting Wednesday, randomly selected customers in Ann Arbor — which is home to an autonomous vehicle research center and testing facility — will receive their pizza order from a Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous research vehicle. The car will be manually driven by a Ford engineer and staffed with researchers to gauge customers’ reactions.

Participants will receive text messages as the self-driving vehicle approaches with instructions on how to retrieve their pizza, which can be unlocked from a “heatwave compartment” inside the vehicle using a unique code.

“We’re interested to learn what people think about this type of delivery,” said Russell Weiner, president of Domino’s USA. “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?”

“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,” Weiner added.