Ford and Domino’s Pizza are teaming up to test self-driving pizza delivery cars in Michigan, as part of an effort to better understand how customers respond to and interact with autonomous vehicles.
They began testing Tuesday in Ann Arbor, where Domino’s is based, to see whether customers like the idea of driverless-car delivery or stumble over what amounts to a self-serve pickup process once the pizza arrives.
The test involves using a Ford Fusion sedan with markings and gear on the roof to indicate it is self-driving.
Ford said the Fusion hybrid is capable of driving itself but is driven by an engineer for the purposes of the testing. The windows will be tinted to prevent the customer from seeing the driver. The main intent of the project is to test customer reaction and the customers will think the vehicle is driving itself.
Those who participate in the test can track their order through a Domino’s app and will receive a unique code that matches the last four digits of their phone number to be used to unlock the so-called Heatwave Compartment which is a container that keeps pizzas warm in the back of the car. Information will be communicated through screens and speakers on the exterior of the cars.
“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.”
Areas of focus include how willing are people to come outside to pick up their orders, the way they approach the car, and how they interact with the screen outside of the vehicle to get the food.
Marakby said this is the first of multiple partnerships between Ford and other companies as part of efforts to ramp up autonomous vehicle testing.