Self-Driving Pies of the Future – Ford and Domino’s Test Autonomous Pizza Delivery

By Steve & Tamami Laser

While the future may be filled with autonomous vehicles whisking passengers to and fro, there will still be a need to deliver stuff to their homes and fill empty stomachs. If the thought of a drone dropping a pizza down your chimney sounds a bit impractical, would a pie delivered in a car without a driver taste as sweet?

Today, Domino’s® Pizza and Ford announced that they’re teaming up to help better understand how self-driving vehicles might handle pizza delivery in the future. As the story goes, researchers will investigate customer reactions to a self-driving Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle as a part of their delivery experience during a test in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“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. “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.”

Folks who agree to participate will be able to track the delivery vehicle by GPS using an upgraded version of Domino’s Tracker®. They can receive text messages as the Fusion approaches designed to help guide them on retrieving their pizzas using a special code to unlock the Domino’s Heatwave Compartment™ inside the car.

Ford says the test cars will be manually-driven by Ford safety engineers and staffed with researchers. Randomly-selected Domino’s customers in Ann Arbor will have the opportunity to receive their delivery pies from the Autonomous Fusion research car.

“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.”

Ford says Roush Enterprises fabricated the prototype vehicle’s pizza container based on its experience working with Domino’s on the DXP® delivery vehicle two years ago. Ford and Domino’s completed preliminary testing of the delivery process using the vehicle in self-driving mode at Mcity, a simulated urban environment on the campus of the University of Michigan.

“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.”

So the only question that remains is, “Can you deliver stuffed cheesy bread and marbled cookie brownies too?”

News source and photos courtesy Ford Motor Company

Story © 2017