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
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No ring of the doorbell, just a text. No tip for the driver? No problem in this test, where Domino's and Ford are teaming up 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 outfitted with radars and a camera that is used for autonomous testing with a Ford engineer at the wheel, but the front windows have been blacked out so customers won't interact with the driver.

Instead, people will have to come out of their homes and type a four-digit code into a keypad mounted on the car. That will open the rear window and let customers retrieve 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, says company President Russell Weiner. Will they want the car in their driveway or by the curb? Will they understand how to use the keypad? Will they come outside if it's raining or 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, which delivers 1 billion pizzas worldwide each year, needs to stay ahead of emerging trends, Weiner says. The test will last six weeks, and 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., which wants to develop a fully driverless vehicle by 2021, said it needs to understand the kinds of things companies would use that vehicle for. The experiment is a first for Ford, but 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, 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, and it has a special black-and-white paint job to identify it as a research vehicle.

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

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


COMMENTS (6)
  • bradenb-hol1
    9/01/2017 - 10:01 a.m.

    I think it is important so other people wont be able to take the pizza out of the car if they did not order it . And it keeps the order of the pizza safe.

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

    The four digit code is important because they need to type it in, in order to get inside the car. When they get into the car they get the pizzas and sides from a heated compartment.

  • ionicaj-cel
    9/01/2017 - 11:42 a.m.

    I think that this is a great idea but is it a little too much? It will create less jobs and make Dominoes more money (which is good for them). I just honestly don't know if I would be too comfortable with a car delivering a pizza to me instead of an actual person but hey, you don't have to tip a car. :)

  • mollyn-cel
    9/01/2017 - 11:44 a.m.

    The four digit code will stop robberies and help document who gets their pizza.

  • rachelb-cel
    9/05/2017 - 12:34 p.m.

    I believe that the article is successful because it is on a topic that appeals to American people. It is something that affects anyone who might order a pizza from Domino's. It is informative and tells us everything that is questionable about the technology, what needs further research, and how long it might take. It really leaves nothing to the imagination for the reader, which makes it a very thorough article.

  • junh-cot
    9/28/2017 - 07:09 p.m.

    Four digit codes make sure that the pizza goes to the right location and protect against thieves. According to the text, customers have to give a code to get their pizza. The text also states that when the code is typed, the pizza will come out of a heated compartment. This evidence from the text shows that only the customer who purchased the pizza will be able to get the pizza.

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