The kid racing up and down the block in a battered old car with a Domino's Pizza sign on the roof may soon be a thing of the past. Ford and Domino's are working on a self-driving pizza delivery vehicle.
Of course, the pizzamobile won't be able to deliver the pizza to your door. Instead, what would normally be the right rear passenger window will open to a storage compartment containing your pizza.
A prototype pizza wagon, using a Ford Fusion hybrid, will soon be deployed in Ann Arbor, Michigan. There will be a Ford engineer driving the car but customers will have to dash out and get the pizza themselves, just as though there was no human driver.
Domino's says the test isn't so much to prove the concept of a self-driving delivery car but rather to see how customers react to the idea. Randomly selected pizza eaters in Ann Arbor will soon be able to specify automated delivery when they place their order.
Last 50 feet
"We're interested to learn what people think about this type of delivery," said Russell Weiner, president of Domino's USA, according to Automotive News. "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?"
Weiner said Domino's wants to be sure that self-driving pizza delivery is "as seamless and customer-friendly as possible."
In the Ann Arbor test, customers will be able to track their orders through GPS and will receive a text message with instructions on unlocking the storage compartment and retrieving their pizza.
The idea certainly has promise. Besides eliminating the often-cited problem of exuberant young drivers speeding through neighborhoods, it would also eliminate the equally annoying problem of pizza delivery workers being held up at gunpoint.
It also eliminates the question of how much to tip.