Autonomous driving, if perfected, represents a major societal advancement. Should we arrive at this proposed future, it may mean the end of traffic accidents, better infrastructure, and reduced emissions.
It might also forever change the future of pizza delivery.
Domino’s Pizza and Ford Motor Company are partnering to examine how self-driving cars impact pizza delivery. The collaboration will analyze consumer reactions in an attempt to understand the dynamics of future food delivery. And just when you think you’ve seen it all huh?
Ford is heavily invested in autonomous driving, with plans to begin driverless car production in 2021. Further, Ford wants to find ways for their driverless cars to directly enhance a customer’s experience with the technology, hence the collaboration with Domino’s.
“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, Vice President, Autonomous and Electric Vehicles, Ford Motor Company. “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.”
Over the next several weeks, randomly-selected Domino’s customers in Ann Arbor, Michigan can elect to receive their order from a Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle. A Ford safety engineer and other researchers will be in the vehicle to monitor the process. Those who participate are able to track their pizza through the vehicle’s GPS with an upgraded version of Domino’s Tracker. As the pizza gets closer, an unlock code for the Domino’s Heatwave Compartment inside the vehicle will be texted to the customer.
“The majority of our questions are about the last 50 feet of the delivery experience,” explained Russell Weiner, President of Domino’s USA. “For instance, how will customers react to coming outside to get their food? We’re interested to learn what people think about this type of delivery.”
Ford and Domino’s will even be monitoring where the car is parked when it arrives with the customer’s pizza.
“We need to understand if a customer’s experience is different if the car is parked in the driveway versus next to the curb,” Weiner continued. “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,” added Patrick Doyle, Domino’s President and Chief Executive Officer.
Domino’s unique Heatwave Compartment was fabricated by Roush Enterprises. Ford and Domino’s conducted preliminary testing of the autonomous delivery process at Mcity, the simulated urban environment on the University of Michigan’s campus in Ann Arbor.
“I’m delighted that Ann Arbor continues to be at the forefront of autonomous vehicle research,” said Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor. “While it’s pizza delivery today, my hope is that collaborations such as this will enable even more innovations tomorrow.”
Carl Anthony studies mechanical engineering at Wayne State University, serves on the Board of Directors for the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, and is a loyal Detroit Lions fan. Before going back to school, he simultaneously held product development and experiential marketing roles in the automotive industry.
Photos & Source: Ford Motor Company, Domino’s Pizza.