Get ready for self-driving vehicles to bring you ordered pizza at your home. Unfortunately, pizza delivery guys may soon be out of jobs in the coming years. This experience would be introduced by none other than two household name companies – Ford Motor Co. and Domino’s Pizza. The joint research will take place in Ann Arbor, Michigan, home to the University of Michigan, home to Domino’s Pizza, and about 30 miles west of Ford headquarters in Dearborn.
“We think there’s a very good business,” said Sherif Marakby, Ford’s vice president for autonomous vehicles and electrification. And for Ford, that very good business starts with pizza delivery
“It’s going to be a real learning experience,” said Dennis Maloney, chief digital officer at Domino’s. “No one really knows what’s going to happen when customers walk out to the car. They’re faced with a car. There’s no human interaction. What happens if they approach the car from the wrong direction? Will people mind coming out of their house? We want to understand all that.”
“The focus of self-driving cars has largely been on the technology — the machine,” said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst with Autotrader, a Cox Automotive brand. “But ultimately, self-driving vehicles must improve people’s lives. Through the seemingly mundane business of pizza delivery, Ford and Domino’s will explore the human-machine interface of self-driving vehicles, which ultimately could be the most important measure of the technology’s success.”
“The alliance between Ford and Domino’s underscores something that will keep happening in automotive and beyond — partnerships,” said Akshay Anand, executive analyst with Kelley Blue Book. “As the world continues to integrate technology and automation, industries will continue to find creative ways to work together. Given that automotive is one of the most important industries in the world, expect to see companies within the industry continue to look outside for chances to research consumers and vice versa.”
There is some customer benefit of accepting pizza delivery from a self-driving car: If there’s no driver, there’s no tip. You can also track the delivery via GPS and you will receive text messages on how to obtain the pizza once the delivery vehicle arrives.
Kelly Garcia, Domino’s senior vice president for e-commerce development, said the company expected to use the vehicle for three to six deliveries a day and would continue the trial through September.
Garcia added that the trial was aimed at understanding how customers would interact with a driverless vehicle, not eliminating drivers. Domino’s employs about 100,000 drivers nationwide and has openings for 10,000 more.
“We could use autonomous cars to fill in where we have a shortage of drivers, or add capacity during surges in business,” Garcia said. “We will have drivers for a long time. This is not about reducing labor costs.”