The true value of self-driving cars: more efficient pizza deliveries?
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The true value of self-driving cars: more efficient pizza deliveries?

Market leading pizza joint Domino’s Pizza Inc. is teaming up with legendary carmaker Ford to trial autonomously-driven pizza deliveries in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Well, not quite. There will still be a human driver at the wheel – a company engineer, guaranteeing that someone will be there to take control in a worst-case scenario – but the goal of the experiment is a step towards driverless deliveries. The companies want to see how customers react to “stepping out of their homes and walking to the car to fetch their pizza from a locked warming compartment, rather than having it carried to their doorstep.”

Russell Weiner, Domino’s USA president, said in a statement: “We’re interested to learn what people think about this type of delivery. 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?”

For Ford, this experiment is part of a bigger plan: to get self-driving cars on the road by 2021. Recently appointed CEO Jim Hackett has mentioned his desire to see autonomous vehicles fulfill a number of roles, rather than just that of “robot taxi”.  Food delivery is undoubtedly one of those roles. Sherif Marakby, Ford’s vice president of autonomous and electric vehicles, said: “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.”

Patrick Doyle, Domino’s president and CEO, described the Ann Arbor experiment as “the first step in an ongoing process of testing that we plan to undertake with Ford.” It will see customers collect their own pizza from delivery vehicles using a unique code on a tablet near the car’s back door that will unlock its pizza compartment. Customers taking part in the test will also be able to track their pizza’s movement using an app on their phones.

Dominion holds Domino’s Pizza in its Global Trends Managed Fund.     

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