Ford and Domino’s start research into pizza deliveries using AVs


The internationally recognized franchised pizza delivery chain, Domino’s, and Ford Motor Co are launching an industry-first collaboration to understand the role that self-driving vehicles can play in takeaway food deliveries.

As part of the testing, researchers from both companies will investigate customer reactions to interacting with a self-driving vehicle as a part of their delivery experience. The research is considered to be important as both companies begin to examine and understand customers’ perspectives around the future of food delivery with autonomous vehicles (AVs). With a plan to begin production of self-driving vehicles in 2021, Ford is taking steps to design a business to meet the needs of both partner companies and their customers, with research crucial to ensuring that the technology is applied in ways that enhance the overall experience.

Over the next several weeks, randomly selected Domino’s customers in Ann Arbor, Michigan, will have the opportunity to receive their delivery orders 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 via GPS using an upgraded version of Domino’s Tracker app. They will also receive text messages as the AV approaches, which will guide them on how to retrieve their pizzas using a unique code to unlock the Domino’s Heatwave Compartment inside the vehicle. Ford and Domino’s completed preliminary testing of the delivery process using the vehicle in self-driving mode at Mcity, the simulated urban environment on the University of Michigan’s campus.

“We’re interested to learn what people think about this type of delivery,” said Russell Weiner, president of Domino’s USA. “The majority of our questions are about the last 50 feet of the delivery experience. For instance, how will customers react to coming outside to get their food? We need to make sure the interface is clear and simple. We need to understand if a customer’s experience is different if the car is parked in the driveway versus next to the curb. All of our testing research is focused on our goal to someday make deliveries with self-driving vehicles as seamless and customer-friendly as possible.”

Sherif Marakby, Ford vice president for autonomous and electric vehicles, commented, “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.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).