Domino's Pizza is testing the waters of driverless delivery to determine how ready Americans are to see a self-driving car pull into their driveway with their dinner. Over the next several weeks, randomly selected customers in Ann Arbor, MI will be among the first to receive their order from an autonomous Ford vehicle, in a pilot program that will simulate the new delivery experience from start to finish.
After placing their order, customers will be able to track the delivery vehicle on the GPS-enabled Domino's Tracker, and receive text messages as the car approaches. Customers will also be instructed on how to retrieve their pizza, which entails a unique code for unlocking the "Domino's Heatwave Compartment" inside the vehicle.
"We're interested to learn what people think about this type of delivery," said Russell Weiner, president of Domino's USA in a statement. "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 curb. 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."
The trial period is less about testing out the technology of driverless cars, and more about the customer reaction, as cars will be driven by a Ford safety engineer and staffed with researchers. The pilot project is in collaboration with Ford and their Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle.
Ford plans to begin production of self-driving cars in 2021. Last year, Domino's became the world's first pizza chain to launch a commercial pizza drone delivery service to customers in New Zealand.