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Domino’s is Testing Self-Driving Pizza Delivery Cars with Ford

They’re doing test runs in Michigan to see how people will react to the future of pizza delivery.

Domino’s has been at the forefront of pizza delivery technology for as long as I can remember pizza delivery technology being a thing (so, the pizza tracker). They’ve tested delivery robots, they’ve tested pizza delivery drones, and now they’re going to be testing autonomous car deliveries — kind of.

We’re still many years out from ever seeing a car without a driver on a public road. But, Domino’s isn’t going to let that stop them from doing some market research well in advance of the advent of driverless delivery. Ford is supplying them with a few Fusion Hybrid cars retrofitted with the sensors needed for autonomous driving so that Domino’s can make a few deliveries in Michigan.

But, it’s not the cars Domino’s is interested in right now — it’s people. Starting next month, Domino’s will begin randomly selecting customers in Ann Arbor to get pizza delivered by one of these autonomous cars. The cars themselves will still be driven by a human, but Domino’s wants these customers to interact with the car as if the human wasn’t there. That means going to the back of the car, entering a code, and grabbing the pizza from a secure heated compartment in the backseat.

It’s an interesting research question, because while autonomous deliveries are certainly attractive to business owners — they’ll be more reliable, and they won’t have to pay drivers — it’s not necessarily more attractive for customers. If customers need to get out of the house to pick up their pizza, then it’s hard to imagine why they wouldn’t prefer to stay inside and have a delivery person bring it to them — especially during winter in Michigan.

But hey, that’s why you do research. Domino’s is putting in the work, and at the end of it, we’ll probably have a better idea of what role autonomous cars have to play in delivery.

Via The Verge