One of the biggest pizza restaurant chains in the U.S. is teaming up with one of the country’s biggest car companies to deliver food to people without a driver.
Domino’s and Ford, both of which are headquartered in Michigan, are set to experiment with driverless car technology in the state’s Ann Arbor suburbs, USA Today reports. The car is capable of operating by itself, but will be driven manually for now so on-board engineers and researchers can fully analyze the customer experience, rather than the self-driving technology.
Ford has been developing self-driving vehicles for some time, and announced earlier this year that it invested $1 billion into its driverless car project in order to reach the market by 2021. But perhaps in an attempt to thrust itself into a new industry, the car manufacturer evidently wants to partner with a corporation that is adept at the food-delivery business.
“We are delivery experts. This is where the industry is going,” said Russell Weiner, president of Domino’s USA, according to USA Today. “We think we are the right company, and we certainly are working with the right partner to make this happen.”
After ordering a pizza, a customer will receive a text message when the vehicle arrives at its destination. The patron will input the last four digits of their phone number on a computer tablet fixed to the exterior of the vehicle. The robotic car will then lower the window, granting the person the ability to extract the items from the embedded warming compartment.
“When you look at moving goods, there are perishable goods, which are difficult to do, like we are experimenting with Domino’s,” said Sherif Marakby, Ford’s vice president of autonomous and electric vehicles, according to USA Today. “And then there are non-perishable goods.”
The autonomous vehicle will also communicate with customers through accompanying mounted screens and speakers. Researchers want to study a number of factors from the experience, including whether a lack of human interaction is a pleasant or irritating aspect, and if people are willing to come outside to obtain their food.
“We’re interested to learn what people think about this type of delivery,” Weiner said, according to The Verge. “The majority of our questions are about the last 50 feet of the delivery experience.” (RELATED: Employees Did The Unthinkable To Save Ford From Bankruptcy, Chairman Says)
The pizza delivery and ordering industry apparently isn’t only for companies with a main focus in food services. More and more Americans are using Amazon, Facebook and Twitter to order food from establishments like Papa John’s, Pizza Hut and Domino’s, exemplifying unlikely partnerships like the Ford and Domino’s collaboration.
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