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Domino’s and Ford partner for self-driving delivery vehicles

Tim Maytom

Ford and Domino’s Pizza have launched an industry-first collaboration to explore the role that self-driving vehicles can play in pizza delivery. As part of testing, the two companies will deploy self-driving vehicles on deliveries to gauge consumer reactions to interacting with autonomous vehicles.

“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, president and CEO of Domino’s. “We pride ourselves on being technology leaders and 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.”

Over the next few weeks, randomly-selected Domino’s customers in the Ann Arbor area of 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 using an upgraded version of Domino’s existing Tracker software, and will receive text messages as the self-driving vehicle approaches, providing them with unique code that can unlock the Domino’s Heatwave Compartment inside the vehicle to retrieve their pizza.

 “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? 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.”

Ford is planning to begin production of self-driving vehicles in 2021, and has invested heavily in testing its technology. Partnerships like this with other companies for both testing and deployment will help acclimatise the public to self-driving vehicles, and Ford is hoping that its research will help it 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, vice president of autonomous and electric vehicles at Ford. “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.”