Domino's is testing a self-driving car to deliver pizza — but there's a catch
Soon, your Domino's pizza may be delivered via self-driving car, but it won't be coming right to your door.
On Tuesday, Domino's and Ford Motor Company announced that they are testing out self-driving cars as pizza delivery vehicles.
In the coming weeks, Domino's will offer randomly selected customers in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the option to receive their pizza delivery from a Ford Fusion Hybrid autonomous research vehicle.
A Ford engineer will still be manually driving the car, which will also be staffed with researchers eager to crack the code of how to deliver pizza without a driver — as well as observe how customers will react to the futuristic delivery service.
"As delivery experts, we've been watching the development of self-driving vehicles with great interest as we believe transportation is undergoing fundamental, dramatic change," Patrick Doyle, Domino's president and CEO, said in a statement.
Right now, the companies' biggest challenge isn't getting a car to drive itself — it's getting the pizza from the curb to the door.
In the Ann Arbor test, customers have to walk out to the parked car and retrieve their pizza from the vehicle's "Heatwave Compartment" themselves.
"The majority of our questions are about the last 50 feet of the delivery experience," Russell Weiner, president of Domino's USA, said in a statement. "For instance, how will customers react to coming outside to get their food? ... 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."
Facebook/Domino'sFord plans to begin production of self-driving vehicles in 2021. Tests with restaurant chains, such as Domino's, help create opportunities for companies to purchase the vehicles down the road, especially as the average American remains unsure about the idea of self-driving vehicles.
This isn't Domino's first foray into trying to deliver pizza without a driver.
In 2016, the pizza chain debuted "Domino's Robotic Unit" in New Zealand. The pint-sized robot — which is essentially an oven-refrigerator hybrid on wheels — was the "world's first autonomous pizza delivery vehicle," according to Domino's.
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