The Acorn: Drew University
August 30, 2017
Ford has created an entirely new type of autonomous vehicle testing program, by announcing it will use its autonomous vehicle fleet to deliver Domino’s pizzas this September.
“I mean, look, to me anything that holds pizza takes any automobile kind of—to kind of the next level,” Domino’s U.S. president Russell Weiner told TODAY. For instance, how will customers react to coming outside to get their food? Or do we need to park in their driveway? “In this case, we’re still trying to understand, and we’re working with partners who understand the consumer and figuring out what we need to do to the vehicle in parallel as we’re developing the tech.” The two companies said Tuesday they established the partnership to study customer reaction to receiving pizzas by a self-driven vehicle. Otto, a startup backed by Uber, delivered 50,000 cans of Budweiser beer from a self-driving truck in Colorado last fall.
Domino’s and Ford have worked together on a number of projects in the past, including in building a way to order pizzas via Ford’s in-car SYNC software and apps platform.
Ford has been considering autonomous vehicles for years, even making a move in 2016 to purchase a $75 million autonomous technology firm out on Silicon Valley.
The trials will select random customers who opt in for the trial and cars will have a Ford safety engineer and researcher on-board for deliveries. Domino’s has teamed up with the automaker to test people’s response to an autonomous delivery vehicle.
Screens and speakers on the car’s exterior will give users information on how to retrieve their delivery. “That’s a big challenge—getting (the pizza) from the curb to the door,” admitted Domino’s spokeswoman Jenny Fouracre.
IBD’S TAKE: Domino’s has been a delivery and mobile ordering leader for years, fueling earnings and stock gains.
Customers must punch a code into a keypad on the delivery vehicle to get their order from the heated storage area on the vehicle.
Other unique delivery methods being tested by Domino’s include a system of drones that would deliver pizzas to customers within a one-mile radius of Domino’s locations in certain German and Dutch cities.
We believe self-driving technology can play a significant role in helping grow the market for restaurant delivery, serving as 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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