Home delivery with autonomous vehicles could be a step closer, after Ford announced a partnership with Domino’s Pizza to trial pizza deliveries using self-driving vehicles.
Randomly selected Domino’s customers in Ann Arbor, Michigan will have the opportunity to receive their order from an autonomous car, a Ford Fusion Hybrid (sold as the Mondeo in the UK), which will be driven manually by a Ford safety engineer. A number of researchers will also come along.
Customers will have to go out to the vehicle once it arrives, in order to collect their pizza.
According to Ford, customers who agree to participate will be able to track the delivery vehicle through GPS using an upgraded version of Domino’s Tracker. They will also receive a text message as the vehicle approaches, giving them instructions on how to retrieve their pizza using a unique code.
“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 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 said that research with companies like Domino’s will be crucial to overcome problems and enhance the customer experience.
The car maker plans to begin production of self-driving vehicles in 2021.