Domino’s to Test Self-Driving Delivery Cars

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CNET – If you’re one of a lucky few Michiganders within range of one specific Domino’s Pizza location in Ann Arbor, your next pizza could show up in a self-driving car… sort of.

Ford and Domino’s announced Tuesday that the two companies have partnered up to gauge customer reaction to self-driving cars. Instead of just asking folks on the street how they view autonomous vehicles, Ford wants to integrate one of its cars into the pizza delivery process.

After ordering Domino’s in the Ann Arbor area, the customer may receive a phone call asking if they’d like to participate in this study. If the recipient says yes, Domino’s will load the customer’s order into Ford’s self-driving car. The recipient will receive a notification when the vehicle arrives, at which point they’ll have to walk outside, input a code into a device on the side of the car, and then they can retrieve the pizza from a special window designed to keep the pizza warm on its trip.

There are two qualities I value above all others in the fast-food game: self-awareness and creativity. That’s why I love White Castle and Taco Bell. Today, I’m adding Domino’s to that list.

White Castle is the place for stoners to get sliders at 4 in the morning and breakfast at 4 in the afternoon. Taco Bell is the place where cost-conscious consumers people too broke for Chipotle go to sample an ever-evolving menu of Mexican offerings. White Castle and Taco Bell aren’t trying to fool anyone. You won’t see Frescata sandwiches there.

Domino’s has long displayed a keen sense of self-awareness. In 2009, they launched an ad campaign to apologize for how lousy their pizza had gotten over the years (though it was never bad enough to stop me from downing two thirds of a the 5-5-5 deal on a weekly basis in college).

More recently Domino’s Instagram has gotten attention for its brutal honesty. You won’t see anything like the pristine Big Mac that has never been witnessed in the wild on the Domino’s Instagram feed.

Domino’s has never been afraid to mix things up with their side offerings, either, but self-driving delivery cars takes their creativity and ingenuity to a new level. If Domino’s offered delivery pizza identical to all other delivery pizza on the market, you better believe I’d choose Domino’s just for the driver-free delivery experience. No awkward small talk with the delivery guy. No judgement on the size of my order for one. And no judgement on the amount I tip.

I only have one major concern. If this self-driving car is making multiple stops on one trip, how do I know the guy before me isn’t going to swipe my Kickers? Hopefully the food is more secure than the newspapers inside newspaper boxes.

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Oh yeah, I hope the cars don’t crash either. That would be bad. But I’ll leave that problem to Ford to iron out. For now, I’ll just give credit where credit is due. Domino’s is stepping up their game, again, and I’m on board. Sorry, Papa John.

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