The pizza guy, or lady, may one day be a thing of the past as Ford and Domino's announced a new partnership to deliver pizzas with self-driving cars.
With a fleet of self-driving Ford Fusion Hybrids, Domino's will begin to carry out pizza deliveries with the advanced cars, though a Ford safety engineer and researchers will be on-board to observe the entire delivery process.
Both companies believe the self-driving pizza delivery vehicles are a prime opportunity to understand how self-driving cars will integrate into future transportation solutions, especially in the food-delivery sector. Like Domino's DXP pizza delivery vehicle—based on a Chevrolet Spark—the self-driving Ford Fusion Hybrids have also been outfitted with the pizza company's "Heatwave Compartment," which keeps the box of risen dough, melted cheese, and red sauce at optimal temperature.
Domino's is particularly interested to see how customers react to retrieving their own pizza from the autonomous delivery car. Randomly selected customers will be offered the chance to have their pizzas delivered by the autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrid, and if they choose to participate, they will receive text-message instructions as the car approaches on how to retrieve their pizza pie. A unique code will unlock the Heatwave Compartment, according to Ford and Domino's.
Domino's says this is the first step in an ongoing process it plans to undertake with Ford. The automaker gains crucial real-world experience and the pizza chain is able to survey how future operations could be implemented. It's one small step for pizza, and a potentially much larger leap for self-driving technology at large.