Pizza delivery without drivers This Friday, Aug. 24, photo, shows the specially designed delivery car that Ford Motor Co. and Domino’s Pizza will use to test self-driving pizza deliveries, at Domino’s headquarters in Ann Arbor, Mich. (AP Photo/Dee-Ann Durbin)
Pizza delivery without drivers

No ring of the doorbell. Just a text. No tip for the driver? Domino's and Ford are teaming up. They want to see if customers will warm to the idea of pizza delivered by driverless cars.

Starting Wednesday, some pizzas in Domino's hometown of Ann Arbor will arrive in a Ford Fusion. It will be outfitted with radars. It will have a camera that is used for autonomous testing. A Ford engineer will be at the wheel. But the front windows have been blacked out. Customers won't talk to the driver.

Instead, people will have to come out of their homes. They will type a four-digit code into a keypad. It will be mounted on the car. That will open the rear window. It will let customers get their order from a heated compartment. The compartment can carry up to four pizzas and five sides, Domino's Pizza Inc. says.

The experiment will help Domino's understand how customers will interact with a self-driving car. That's according to company President Russell Weiner. Will they want the car in their driveway? Or will they want it by the curb? Will they understand how to use the keypad? Will they come outside if it's raining? Will they come outside if it’s snowing? Will they put their pizza boxes on top of the car and threaten to mess up its expensive cameras?

"The majority of our questions are about the last 50 feet of the delivery experience," Weiner told reporters last week.

Domino's delivers 1 billion pizzas worldwide each year. It needs to stay ahead of emerging trends, Weiner says. The test will last six weeks. The companies say they'll decide afterward what to do next. Domino's is also testing pizza delivery with drones.

Weiner said the company has 100,000 drivers in the U.S. In a driverless world, he said, he could see those employees taking on different roles within the company.

Ford Motor Co. wants to develop a fully driverless vehicle by 2021. It needs to understand the kinds of things companies would use that vehicle for. The experiment is a first for Ford. Other companies have seen the potential for food deliveries. 

"We're developing a self-driving car not just for the sake of technology," said Sherif Marakby. He is Ford's vice president of autonomous and electric vehicles. "There are so many practical things that we need to learn."

Only one car will be deployed in Ann Arbor. It has a special black-and-white paint job. That’s to identify it as a research vehicle.

Customers in the test area will be chosen randomly when they order a pizza. They will get a phone call to confirm they want to participate. If they agree, they'll get a text message. It will let them know when the vehicle is pulling up. And it will tell them how to get their food.

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Why is the 4-digit code important?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • kenzih-hol
    9/01/2017 - 10:01 a.m.

    The 4 digit code is important because you have to type in the code to open up the back window for them to be able to get there food

  • jamesb-hol1
    9/01/2017 - 10:01 a.m.

    The 4-digit code is important so they know who's whos getting the pizza.

  • paigeg-hol
    9/01/2017 - 10:02 a.m.

    I think this a really weird thing to do because i wouldn't be very comfortable with it. Also i think they would loose a lot of business because people don't want to remember a 4-digit code or walk out there when its cold or raining that is the workers job.

  • matthewc-hol1
    9/01/2017 - 10:03 a.m.

    I think it would be awesome to have a pizza delivered to me by a car. It is really cool that they're testing this technology to better improve technology.

  • zanes-hol
    9/01/2017 - 10:14 a.m.

    so know ones steals the pizza

  • kendylr-hol
    9/01/2017 - 11:32 a.m.

    It will open the rear window. It will let customers get their order from a heated compartment.

  • alexv-hol1
    9/01/2017 - 11:32 a.m.

    They will type a four-digit code into a keypad. It will be mounted on the car. That will open the rear window. It will let customers get their order from a heated compartment.

  • zachh-hol1
    9/01/2017 - 11:33 a.m.

    This car is awesome. This will be revolutionary in the pizza delivery industry. But if this does become a thing it sounds like thousands of jobs will be lost as pizza boys.

  • adairab-hol
    9/01/2017 - 11:33 a.m.

    The 4 digit code prevents the wrong person from receiving the pizza. If there are two of the same address in a short distance, this feature makes sure no one pays for a stranger's pizza.

  • libertyk-hol
    9/01/2017 - 11:33 a.m.

    The 4-digit is important because if a customer wants to retrieve their pizza from the self-driving vehicle, then they must enter the code into to open the rear of the car which contains the pizza in a heated compartment.

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