Maybe you’re not ready to hop into a driverless taxi cab, but what about having your pizza delivered by a self-driving car?
Domino’s and Ford have partnered for a test in the Michigan city of Ann Arbor, intended to gauge just how interested customers might be in having their pizza brought to their house by an autonomous delivery vehicle.
One hitch: Getting your pizza via one of these robot cars is going to require a little more work from you than if you just had a human driver bring the pizza to your door.
Get It Yourself
Under the test, randomly selected customers will have their pizza delivered by a Ford Fusion Autonomous Research vehicle. After the order is placed, customers will be able to track the delivery vehicle through GPS using an upgraded version of Domino’s Tracker. They’ll then receive a text message when the car arrives.
At that point, customers will have to walk to the car, punch in a special code, and retrieve their pizza themselves.
Sure, delivery by self-driving car likely means you won’t have to tip the driver, but it also suggests you’ll probably have to put on pants in order to get your hands on your pizza.
Not Self-Driving, Yet
Alas, the new Domino’s/Ford delivery car won’t be driving up and down your street completely alone just yet. For now, the companies note that a Ford safety manager will actually be behind the wheel, but don’t expect this person to bring your pizza to the door.
The entire point of the tests is to gauge whether or not customers are willing to put in the work to retrieve their pizzas themselves.
“We’re interested to learn what people think about this type of delivery,” Russell Weiner, president of Domino’s USA, said in a statement. “The majority of our questions are about the last 50 feet of the delivery experience.”
The company notes that the research and delivery tests are meant to ensure that one day in the future, the pizza chain can offer customers seamless, friendly driverless deliveries.
For Ford, the tests aren’t about getting people piping hot pizzas; instead, the partnership should help them determine just how useful driverless cars will be. Before the carmaker can start its planned production of self-driving vehicles in 2021, it first needs to find out just how commercially viable those cars are, and how they can, and may, be used.