Published: Wed, August 30, 2017
Money | By Oscar Reynolds

Domino's are testing self-driving delivery cars with built-in warming ovens

Domino's are testing self-driving delivery cars with built-in warming ovens

Technically, there actually will be a person behind the wheel of the prototype delivery vehicles - a Ford engineer monitoring the operation of the test cars.

Russell Weiner, president of Domino's U.S., says, "We need to make sure the interface is clear and simple". What that means is we will be looking at how customers respond to this new experience, which will require them to interact with the self-driving auto instead of a delivery person - walking out to the vehicle instead of just walking to answer their front door. "We think we are the right company, and we certainly are working with the right partner to make this happen". No word on if (or when) the companies plan on doling out deliveries nationwide. "It's about creating that last 50-feet scenario and observing how customers will interact with the vehicle".

Ford has turned a Hybrid Fusion in to a pizza delivery vehicle complete with Domino's Heatwave Compartment to see what the reaction is.

As we've explored before, Domino's is the Amazon of pizza.

With the looming advent of the age of autonomous cars comes many questions. Customers will have to come out, punch a unique code into a screen, and get their pizza out of the compartment in the back of the auto. Why?

The goal of Ford is building, at scale, fleets of autonomous vehicles that are capable of servicing different industries such as this one. Along with robot taxis, the automaker also wants to make deliveries of groceries and other items with the cars, tapping a potentially large new source of revenue. Even the Mayor of Ann Arbor is on board, noting that "while it's pizza delivery today, my hope is that collaborations such as this will enable even more innovations tomorrow".

An unconventional partnership could provide new insight into the use of autonomous vehicles for delivery.

'That's a big challenge - getting (the pizza) from the curb to the door'. In addition to being the home of both Domino's headquarters and thousands of hungry college students at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor is home to the Mcity autonomous test track, where Ford has extensively tested its autonomous Fusions. So what is the point of the driverless delivery?

"I'm delighted that Ann Arbor continues to be at the forefront of autonomous-vehicle research", Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor said in a statement.

Customers must punch a code into a keypad on the delivery vehicle to get their order from the heated storage area on the vehicle.

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