A Self-Driving Ford Fusion Will Now Deliver Domino’s
Ford and Domino’s are teaming up to test autonomous vehicles for pizza deliveries in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the United States in order to understand how everyday customers will react to, and interact with the autonomous service vehicles in the future. However, the Ford Fusion Hybrid research vehicle (outfitted with a pizza container) used during the experiment will be driven by a safety engineer along with other researchers.
The self driving Ford Fusion will randomly be made available to the selected Domino’s customers who will then have an option to accept deliveries from a self-driving pizza delivery car. With no driver involved, the customer will need to to unlock their pizza containers by typing their unique delivery code. The Heatwave Compartment unlocking code will be sent to the customer. This code will match the last four digits of the customer’s phone number. Those who opt for the service can track their order via Domino’s app. Rest of the order info will be communicated through screens and speakers on the exterior of the cars.
Sherif Marakby, Vice President of Ford Autonomous Vehicles and Electrification said “We will be looking at how customers respond to this new experience, which will require them to interact with the self-driving car instead of a delivery person—walking out to the vehicle instead of just walking to answer their front door,” He also described the project as ethnographic research in an interview
Ford is using this real-time trial to test its new project and develop the consumer aspect of autonomous driving technology. The company hopes to commercialise the experiment in a few years’ time.
Domino’s has also been experimenting with the idea of autonomous vehicles for sometime. The company has already tested pizza delivering robots in Australia and in Germany. Though the delivery robot trials were in partnership with smaller robotics startups, whereas the latest trial involves a more traditional car-maker.
Sherif Marakby said “The human aspect is the most significant piece here. We know we can create technology, but it has to be based on the human element of how we’re using the AVs,” and “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,”
The current experiment hopes to gain insight on various factors like, willingness of a consumer to come outside to pick up their orders, the way they approach the car, and the manner in which they interact with the screen placed on the exterior of the vehicle.
Ford, like many other carmakers, has invested heavily in autonomous technology and hopes to introduce its self-driving cars in market by 2021.