Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle
Ford and Domino’s Pizza is consumer testing a forthcoming, fully autonomous, delivery car to learn how fast food lovers respond to it in Michigan, United States – and your street might be next. If offered, you can choose to have food delivered by this Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle instead of a traditional driver.
This Ford Mondeo clone is guaranteed to be noticed by your neighbours and get the curtains twitching. It has systems on its roof which enable it to work autonomously, a screen on its rear/right quarter panel for you to interact with, white paint and stickers to emphasis its status. One says “experiment” for example.
How automated pizza delivery works
Despite the test car’s autonomous strengths it is driven to your door by a human “safety engineer”, Ford confirmed. Researchers occupy the remaining seats. The purpose, therefore, of the consumer test is to establish how you interact with the vehicle – rather than prove it is capable of operating autonomously. The process is:
- place your food order in the usual manner
- monitor the location of the vehicle via the internet
- receive a text message when delivery is imminent
- leave your property to find the vehicle
- enter a code into the screen on the side of the car to unlock the heatwave compartment that keeps food warm in transit
- retrieve the pizza
Domino’s hopes to learn from consumer test
President of Domino’s in The United States of America, Russell Weiner, explained: “We’re interested to learn what people think about this type of delivery. The majority of our questions are about the last fifty feet of the delivery experience. For instance, how will customers react to coming outside to retrieve their food?”
In addition, the company wants the process to be straightforward. “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 a curb”, Mr Weiner confirmed.
“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”, Mr Weiner concluded.
Ford welcomes customer feedback
Ford plans to produce autonomous cars from 2021. The Domino’s consumer test is an important step as it enables the manufacturer - and Domino’s itself - to better understand what is required from such machines. “We are pleased to have Domino’s join us for this important part of the development process”, a representative added.