Ann Arbor-based Domino’s Pizza today announced a partnership with Ford Motor Co. to investigate the role self-driving vehicles can play in pizza delivery. As part of the testing, researchers from both companies will study customer reactions to interacting with a self-driving vehicle as part of their delivery experience, which will help understand consumers’ perspectives about the future of autonomous food delivery.
Over the next several weeks, randomly selected Domino’s customers in Ann Arbor will have the opportunity to receive their delivery order from a Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle, which will be manually driven by a Ford safety engineer and staffed with researchers.
Customers who agree to participate will be able to track the delivery vehicle through GPS using an updated version of the Domino’s Tracker. They will also receive text messages as the self-driving vehicle approaches that will guide them on how to retrieve their pizza(s) using a unique code to unlock the Domino’s Heatwave Compartment inside the vehicle.
“As delivery experts, we’ve been watching the development of self-driving vehicles with great interest as we believe transportation is undergoing fundamental, dramatic change,” says Patrick Doyle, Domino’s president and CEO. “We pride ourselves on being technology leaders and are excited to help lead research into how self-driving vehicles may play a role in the future of pizza delivery. This is the first step in an ongoing process of testing that we plan to undertake with Ford.”
As Ford continues to build its mobility and self-driving vehicle markets, conducting research with companies like Domino’s will be necessary to ensure the technology is used to enhance the customer experience, the automaker says.
“As we increase our understanding of the business opportunity for self-driving vehicles to support the movement of people and goods, we’re pleased to have Domino’s join us in this important part of the development process,” says Sherif Marakby, Ford’s vice president for autonomous and electric vehicles. “As a company focused on the customer experience, Domino’s shares our vision for a future enabled by smart vehicles in a smart environment that enhance people’s lives.”
Ford and Domino’s completed preliminary testing of the delivery process using the vehicle in self-driving mode at Mcity, a simulated urban environment on the University of Michigan’s campus.
Founded in 1960, Domino’s Pizza operates 14,200 stores in more than 82 international markets, with global retail sales of nearly $10.9 billion in 2016.