This September, the Ford Motor Company and Domino’s Pizza will begin testing the reactions of Michigan consumers who are having pies delivered by new self-driving vehicles.
Bring us pizza, please
While that seems like some futuristic way of delivering pizzas, it is not the first experiment with advanced pizza delivery technology. That honor belongs to pizza lovers Down Under, where Australia-based Domino’s Pizza Enterprises (the Ann Arbor-based company’s largest independent franchisee) has tested delivery to customers in New Zealand using drones.
In a recent blog post, the head of Ford’s autonomous and electric vehicles, Sherif Marakby, made it clear that the automaker has broader ambitions, saying Ford planned to cooperate “with multiple partners” in seeing self-driving vehicles deployed, which will be “designed to improve the movement of people and goods.” In the past, executives at Ford had said the company expected to launch a self-driving shuttle for commercial ride-sharing fleets by 2021.
But Stateside, Domino’s and Ford will begin to deliver pizzas to randomly selected customers in the Ann Arbor area, with a Ford Fusion Hybrid, which is equipped with self-driving technology – although, the delivery vehicles will initially be piloted by human drivers.
We’re still focused on the last 50 feet. That’s a big challenge: getting the pizza from the curb to the door. – Domino’s spokeswoman Jenny Fouracre
The customers will be able to track the delivery process, via GPS, and will receive text messages on just how to retrieve the pies when the delivery vehicle has arrived. There is still one problem with automation, which is just how to deliver pizzas economically to the top level of a college dorm.
For now, the test vehicle will not attempt to solve that problem. For now, it will stop outside the customer’s house, and not provide true door-to-door delivery service.