SELF-DRIVING technology for cars has found an unlikely bedfellow, and it is in the form of pizza.
Dominos, purveyors of all things greasy, round, and meaty, have formed a partnership with Ford to develop self-driving delivery vehicles.
Sorry pizza boys, but looks like you’ll need to find another way to the bank.
The partnership has started with just a single vehicle, which will deliver food in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Over the next couple of weeks, randomly selected Domino’s customers in the area will have the option of having their pizza delivered via the self-driving vehicle.
Things aren’t as straightforward however, as a car can’t exactly hand over fresh pizza at your doorstep.
Customers who are having their pizzas delivered by the Ford research vehicle will have to meet the car on the street, and enter the last four digits of their mobile number into a tablet mounted to its exterior, before a window is lowered, giving them access to their hangover cure.
Now, it’d be easy to dismiss this as marketing guff, but there is some legitimate purpose to the partnership.
Firstly, Dominos and their customers are getting a hands-on look at what self-driving tech could mean for society outside of normal transport solutions.
Secondly, Ford is using the opportunity to develop further uses for its automotive technology, by trying to offer new solutions to existing situations.
“We don’t want to wait until we have autonomous vehicle technology all ready to launch to start understanding these businesses, so we’re doing things in parallel,” says Sherif Maraby, Ford’s head of autonomous and electric vehicles.
Ford has promised its fully autonomous cars will be in production by 2021. There’s no doubt lessons from the robo pizza delivery car will be implemented into the production-ready autonomous technology.
There will be a driver behind the wheel of the test pizza delivery vehicle, so the future isn’t quite here just yet. But, Ford claims the human presence is more to prevent the vehicle lurching unexpectedly, and to assist in correctly parking the vehicle.