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Self-Driving Pizza Delivery Cars To Be Tested By Domino’s And Ford

Self-Driving Pizza Delivery Cars To Be Tested By Domino’s And Ford
As part of an effort to better understand how customers respond to and interact with autonomous vehicles Ford and Domino's Pizza are teaming up to test self-driving pizza delivery cars in Michigan.
The option to accept pizza deliveries from a Ford Fusion Hybrid autonomous research vehicle would be available for randomly selected Domino's customers in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the coming weeks. However, the car won't be self-driving or driving itself.
A Ford safety engineer would drive each of the cars.
There would be other researchers onboard, who will zero in on the last 50 feet of the customer experience while each of the cars will be driven by a Ford safety engineer.
The project was described as ethnographic research in an interview with The Verge by Sherif Marakby, Vice President of Ford Autonomous Vehicles and Electrification. "We don't want to wait until we get everything done on the tech and remove the driver. We're trying to start doing the research. We still are working on the technology, because it's not ready to be put on public streets," he said. "It's simulating that the vehicle is in autonomous mode."
Those who participate in the test 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 and they will also be able track their order through a Domino's app. The Heatwave Compartment a container kept at the back of the car that keeps pizzas warm.
"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."
How people and customers interact with the screen outside of the vehicle to get the food, the way they approach the car, and how willing are people to come outside to pick up their orders, are among the issues that the study or the experiment would focus on.
As part of efforts to ramp up autonomous vehicle testing, this is the first of multiple partnership between Ford and other companies, Marakby said. "The key thing is that our development is going to benefit from these partnerships," Marakby said. "We will incorporate changes when we launch at scale in 2021, whether it's perishable or non-perishable deliveries."
With an eye toward bringing self-driving cars to market by 2021, Ford, like many other carmakers, has invested heavily in autonomous technology. And plans to invest $1 billion in Argo AI, an artificial intelligence startup was announced by the company earlier this year.
"The human aspect is the most significant piece here. We know we can create technology, but it has to be based on the human element of how we're using the AVs," Marakby said.
As well as including a Siri like digital assistant that can receive orders and a fleet of, Domino's has experimented with different (and sometimes gimmicky) delivery technologies.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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