Economy

Making pizza deliveries with self-driving cars

Making pizza deliveries with self-driving cars

In partnership with Ford, some lucky residents of Ann Arbor could have their pizza delivered to them courtesy of the future, in the shape of a Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle.

Russell Weiner, president of Domino's United States of America, said: "We're interested to learn what people think about this type of delivery". For instance, how will customers react to coming outside to get their food? "We think we are the right company, and we certainly are working with the right partner to make this happen". That could be the future, as Ford and Domino's study what role self-driving vehicles can play in pizza delivery. The research team won't just be collecting the typical on-road data from sensors and cameras that autonomous test cars usually record - they'll also be tasked with observing how the customers respond to the cars. "It's about creating that last 50-feet scenario and observing how customers will interact with the vehicle".

Customers will receive a unique code to unlock a domino's heatwave compartment inside the vehicle to retrieve their order.

Secondly, it will contain not only a pizza in an oven to keep it warm, but also some researchers who will record what goes on.

This is hardly Domino's first taste of using cutting edge tech to bring its pizzas to the masses.

Ford announced in February it would invest $1 billion in Pittsburgh-based Argo AI to help the auto giant develop autonomous vehicles. Because in a world where vehicles can drive themselves, it would be absurd to deliver a two-pound pizza in a two-ton auto.

Meanwhile, technology firms like Google and automakers like Ford have ratcheted up their work on self-driving vehicles.

Ford notes that this experiment is more about robotic delivery than it is about autonomous driving, however.

'That's a big challenge - getting (the pizza) from the curb to the door'. Ford plans to roll out the first driverless business vehicles in about five years, and Domino's has signed on to test their viability for food delivery, according to a press release.

IBD'S TAKE: Domino's has been a delivery and mobile ordering leader for years, fueling earnings and stock gains. It will be deployed over the next several weeks, so if you're a resident of Ann Arbor, you just might be lucky enough to have it drop by if you place a Dominos' order. He argues that this is "one way that we'll build demand and scale for our autonomous vehicle business, in addition to people movement such as ride hailing".


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