Domino’s and Ford team up to deliver pizzas in self-driving cars

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Domino’s Pizza and Ford have launched a world-first collaboration to deliver pizzas in self-driving vehicle trials.

Domino's and Ford team up to delver pizzas in self-driving cars

Domino’s and Ford team up to delver pizzas in self-driving cars

As part of the tests in Ann Arbor, Michigan USA, researchers from both companies aim to discover what customers’ reactions are and to better understand perspectives on food delivery using driverless cars.

Patrick Doyle, Domino’s president and CEO, said: “We believe transportation is undergoing fundamental, dramatic change. We 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 says that conducting research on self-driving vehicles with companies like Domino’s will prove crucial to ensuring the technology is applied in ways that enhance the customer experience ahead of plans to produce driverless cars in 2021.

Sherif Marakby, Ford vice president, Autonomous and Electric Vehicles, said: “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.”

However, before getting too excited at the prospect of having your pizza delivered in an autonomous vehicle, the trials will initially only be undertaken in Ann Arbor, where randomly selected customers will be given the opportunity to have their pizza order delivered in a Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle. The company says, the vehicle will be, “manually-driven by a Ford safety engineer and staffed with researchers”.

Customers agreeing to participate will be able to track their delivery vehicle using GPS on a special version of Domino’s Tracker app. A text message will be sent to the customer as the vehicle approaches, that will instruct them on how to retrieve their pizza using a unique code to unlock the Domino’s Heatwave Compartment safely stored within the car.

Russell Weiner, president of Domino’s USA, said: “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.”

Initial trials of the technology have already been undertaken at Mcity, the purpose-built simulated urban environment at the University of Michigan. Roush Enterprises built the code-unlockable Domino’s Heatwave Compartment, which stores the pizzas.

Christopher Taylor, Ann Arbor Mayor, said: “While it’s pizza delivery today, my hope is that collaborations such as this will enable even more innovations tomorrow.”

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Jonathan Musk

Jonathan turned to motoring journalism in 2013 having founded, edited and produced Autovolt - one of the UK's leading electric car publications. He has also written and produced books on both Ferrari and Hispano-Suiza, while working as an international graphic designer for the past 15 years. As the automotive industry moves towards electrification, Jonathan brings a near-unrivalled knowledge of EVs and hybrids to Fleet World Group.