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Getting a taste of autonomous cars

(USA)

How will people respond to having their pizzas delivered by autonomous cars? Ford and Domino’s Pizza have teamed up to find out.

The pair are using a self-driving test vehicle, developed by Ford, to deliver Domino’s Pizza, which is kept hot inside a heatwave compartment inside the car and opened by customers using a security code. Trials of the service will take place over the next few weeks in Ann Arbor city, Michigan.

“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,” said 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.”

Customers will have the opportunity to select a delivery from a Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle, which will be manually controlled by a Ford safety engineer. There will also be team of researchers inside and the idea is to learn how the experience goes down with customers.

“We’re interested to learn what people think about this type of delivery,” added 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.”

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