Ford has teamed up with pizza firm Domino’s to trial a self-driving pizza delivery fleet in Michigan.
Domino’s customers in the Ann Arbor area of Michigan will be randomly selected to take part in the experiment starting within the next few weeks. The autonomous car, a Ford Fusion Hybrid (sold as the Mondeo in the UK), will be driven manually by an engineer. A number of researchers will also be on hand.
Customers taking part in the trial will be able to track the delivery vehicle using GPS. They’ll be sent a text message as the self-driving car approaches, giving them instructions on how to retrieve their pizza using a unique code.
And that could be the stumbling block. Rather than having the pizza delivered to their front door, they’ll have to walk to their driveway or even the road near their home to collect the pizza.
“We’re interested to learn what people think about this type of delivery,” said Domino’s USA president, Russell Weiner.
“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 kerb. 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 research with major companies, such as this with Domino’s, will be crucial to overcome obstacles and enhance the customer experience. The US giant has preciously announced plans to begin production of self-driving vehicles in 2021.
“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.”