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Domino's Market Tests A Self-Driving Pizza Delivery Car (cnn.com) 145

An anonymous reader quotes CNN: Someday soon your Domino's Pizza could be delivered to you -- without an actual delivery person. Ford and Domino's are testing out a specially-equipped Ford Fusion that comes not only with self-driving technology but also an oven. It sounds cool but there is a catch -- there's no one to walk the pizza to your front door and ring the bell. That's what Ford and Domino's say they're really testing. "How will customers react to coming outside to get their food?" Domino's president Russell Weiner said in a statement, "We need to make sure the interface is clear and simple."

During the testing phase, an engineer and a driver will be in the car -- but the windows will be heavily tinted so customers can't see them. And both have been instructed not to interact with people at all. Domino's wants to see how well customers deal with coming out and getting their own pie from what is, basically, a pizza ATM built into the car. To get their pizzas, customers will have to enter a number on the touchpad, then a back window will lower, revealing the pizza. Over the next five weeks, randomly selected customers around Ann Arbor, Michigan, will be offered the option of getting their pizza delivered by the hi-tech "driverless" car.

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Domino's Market Tests A Self-Driving Pizza Delivery Car

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  • by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Tuesday August 29, 2017 @10:13PM (#55107413)

    Perfect testing ground.

    • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Tuesday August 29, 2017 @10:38PM (#55107517)

      Since I don't have to tip, I am for it.

    • by tgeek ( 941867 )
      I remember well what traffic was like in Ann Arbor. Good luck getting your pizza delivered the same day. Unless you don't mind a few pedestrians impaled on the grill of the self driving car. But then again, that shouldn't affect the pizza /shrug
      • Never mind that Ann Arbor is quite hilly.
      • You don't have to use a Ford Fusion as your delivery vehicle. A golf cart or motorcycle with an oven sidecar would work fine. And conceptually it could cook the pizza while traveling. On a college campus, I'd worry more about the customers finding ways to bypass the payment step.

        The big problem is probably going to be that the technology to navigate a target rich environment without hitting anything/anybody doesn't exist and is probably going to be way harder to develop than most folks think.

        I recall tha

        • "... customers finding ways to bypass the payment step."

          Free pizza for hackers?

          "The big problem is probably going to be that the technology to navigate a target rich environment without hitting anything/anybody doesn't exist and is probably going to be way harder to develop than most folks think."

          That seems correct to me. The technology of self-driving vehicles seems to me to be far from ready for common use.
  • "How will customers react to coming outside to get their food?" Judging by the scary apartment building I delivered to 25 years ago or so, they'll go along with it.
    • They're hungry. If they weren't, they wouldn't have ordered a pizza. Odds are that they'll walk out to the curb to get it.

      • They're hungry. If they weren't, they wouldn't have ordered a pizza. Odds are that they'll walk out to the curb to get it.

        On the other hand, they didn't go take the pizza themselves from some take-away (= actually very popular here around at several italian restaurants. much better quality than Domino, btw).

        Instead they specifically order that the food be brought to their place.

        The reasons that they choose not to go out to a take-away might still apply and be reasons not to get to the car.

        e.g.: they live in an upper floor of a stairs-only/no-elevator appartment complex, or the elevator is broken, and they can't walk easily (on

      • I live somewhere where it is -13F most of the year. If I wanted to go outside to get pizza, I would have gone out to pick it up. This better come with some convincing discounts beyond the tip.
  • by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Tuesday August 29, 2017 @10:22PM (#55107453)

    Right now, the pizza comes to my door. I don't need to put shoes on or a coat. This customer experience is worse. Why would I choose it when there are other pizza deliveries that will still deliver to the door.

    It would have to be significantly cheaper...

    • I should think it should at least be faster .... if there's an oven in the car then it should be able to complete the cook on the way to the house.

      If they just mean a warming oven, then meh. I generally had to go out of the apartment when I lived in one to get the pizza anyway, none of the drivers had a clue where apartment 23 of 50 was.

    • And it's also shit pizza. Any local restaurant can do better.

    • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

      It would have to be significantly cheaper...

      What a coincidence. Exactly the customer base of people who would choose Domino's to begin with over another pizzeria.

      • Not in the UK. Dominos pizzas are about the most expensive of the take away and delivery pizza companies. Their pizzas are stupid prices.

        • Not in the UK. Dominos pizzas are about the most expensive of the take away and delivery pizza companies. Their pizzas are stupid prices.

          yes but only if you exclude the few places that make actual decent pizza, as opposed to the grease-soaked takeaway rubbish "pizza" you get at Domino, their imitators, or your typical ethnically-diverse takeaway that covers all the bases by offering kebaba and fried chicken as well as fish&chips, pizza, and curries.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      Right now, the pizza comes to my door. I don't need to put shoes on or a coat. This customer experience is worse. Why would I choose it when there are other pizza deliveries that will still deliver to the door. It would have to be significantly cheaper...

      Here in Norway the pizza shops take ~75 NOK for delivery and ~250 NOK for a big pizza, tipping is not common. At work I get reimbursed 4.10 NOK/km for using my own car which is expected to roughly cover the running cost of the car with gas and wear/tear and the pizza shops usually deliver within 4 km. So at most it's ~33 NOK round trip to deliver a single pizza, my guess the average doing rounds is more like 10-15 NOK. The rest is probably mostly paying the driver for his work shift. I guess the autonomy an

    • In many states, it gets COLD in the winter. In my state, it can get to -40F. If I have to walk outside to a car to get a pizza, I might as just well drive to the Domino's store and get it myself.
    • by jezwel ( 2451108 )
      I think it would simply be faster delivery - make the pizza and chuck into the car oven. Pizza is cooked during autonomous delivery. Saves several minutes of in-house cooking time.

      Of course, coming up with a level 5 autonomous car is going to take some time...

      • Pizzas take about 10 minutes to cook in a commercial pizza oven. There's not a lot of time savings to be had there.

    • by e3m4n ( 947977 )

      when I was in the navy and stationed in dorms on base, the drivers were only allowed to come as close as the parking lot. This was even before you could get a text that the driver was waiting, so sometimes they waited a good 10min. I believe college dorms have similar issues. They can't just stroll into a dorm anymore, not after all the reaction to a girl getting raped about 20yrs ago.

  • I'm never, ever tipping a robot for service.

    So that's $3-5 cheaper already.

  • by lucm ( 889690 ) on Tuesday August 29, 2017 @10:29PM (#55107483)

    If they send a robot, we will lose the opportunity to look at the driver name in the tracking app and get in stalker mode if it sounds even vaguely like a girl name.

  • by llamalad ( 12917 ) on Tuesday August 29, 2017 @11:01PM (#55107589)

    "The Deliverator used to make software. Still does, sometimes. But if life were a mellow elementary school run by well-meaning education Ph.D.s, the Deliverator's report card would say: "Hiro is so bright and creative but needs to work harder on his cooperation skills."

    So now he has this other job. No brightness or creativity involvedâ"but no cooperation either. Just a single principle: the Deliverator stands tall, your pie in thirty minutes or you can have it free, shoot the driver, take his car, file a class-action suit. The Deliverator has been working this job for six months, a rich and lengthy tenure by his standards, and has never delivered a pizza in more than twenty-one minutes. " â" Neal Stephenson

  • Walmart has shown that many people will put up with a crap product if it seems to save them a few bucks.

    I'd just as soon pay a few bucks more and let the kid keep his delivery job.

    • I'd just as soon pay a few bucks more and let the kid keep his delivery job.

      You can create even more jobs if you pay him to smash windows [wikipedia.org].

      Nobody benefits from pointless busywork, so why not just spend the "few bucks" on something you actually want, so someone can be employed to create it?

      • "Nobody benefits from pointless busywork"

        What is to one isn't to another and what isn't to another is to one too.

    • I agree, I haven't ordered a big chain pizza in years. I go to this little Italian restaurant, I go in, see the owners mother with a huge cauldron on the stove. I ask what she's doing , he tells me (thick Italian accent) she a make a da sauce. Ever since, only place I go. He delivers to my door personally, we shoot the breeze.
  • ... porn writers!
    They're gonna hafta come up with new plots!!!

    • of a television screen, tuned to a dead channel.

      If Niel Gaiman can adapt so can they.
    • They're gonna hafta come up with new plots!!!

      If the majority of porn being made today is any indication, they can just switch it up to a woman going out to get her pizza and being choked and raped on the hood of the delivery vehicle.

      • by e3m4n ( 947977 )

        I thought they did away with plots? waay waay back in the 80s the type of porn out there was a spoof on a real movie. It was full length, had a story line, bad acting, multiple sex scenes. Fast forward a few decades and the scenes practically start out undressed and end just as soon as the facial is over.

  • franchises stores don't have funds for owned cars no they under pay drivers to use there own. Lot's of them don't have commercial car insurance. As some personal car insurance does not cover pizza / food.

  • Good way to get in local lock up and makes it sound like there are safety issues and they don't want any one to say something about them.

  • Multi drop runs?? will they have more then holding area?

  • Fake orders and robbery setups will this system fall victim to them.

    • Fake orders and robbery setups will this system fall victim to them.

      Even now, many pizza shops require caller ID to place an order by phone, or pre-payment with a credit card.

      The delivery vehicle will have a camera, and require presentation of a texted QR code to dispense the pizza.

      I have a hard time seeing how either fake orders or robberies could be a problem. At least the robberies will be much LESS of a problem than with human drivers, since there will be no wallet to steal.

      • since there will be no wallet to steal. But they will have an car that will be coded to not hit people. Just jam the cell and it can't send out any data.

      • The delivery vehicle will have a camera, and require presentation of a texted QR code to dispense the pizza.

        You should at least RTFA before spouting on about it. QR codes would be nice and simple but people have to enter the last four digits of the phone number used to place the order into a keypad when picking up the pizza. So backwards.

        • QR codes would be nice and simple but people have to enter the last four digits of the phone number used to place the order into a keypad when picking up the pizza. So backwards.

          If your phone dies between the time you make the order and the time the delivery occurs, you still want to be able to get your pizza off the truck.

  • Really, so out of all the problems that autonomous vehicle manufacturers face in terms of developing, testing, and deploying their technology, the pizza part is the hard part? Get real. This will die within 18 months (sooner if they're smart).

    The amount of uninformed ignorance of how hard a problem this is (not the pizza part) is astounding. It's almost a joke that they think to attach the triviality of the pizza to the problem.
  • by bongey ( 974911 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2017 @12:26AM (#55107889)
    Guess they finally threw in the towel on making a good pizza.
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Food preparation robots are kind of hard... Maybe harder than a self-driving car.

      Food tends to be soft, made of many irregularly shaped small parts that even humans find a challenge to handle, and requires some fairly good computer vision. Lidar won't help you evenly cover a pizza base.

      • Food preparation robots are kind of hard... Maybe harder than a self-driving car.

        Pizza-making machines are a well-solved problem, which is why there are so many frozen pizza offerings at your local supermarket.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          They call them "pizza", but they aren't really... You are right, I should have specified that robots can't make real human-style pizza.

          • You are right, I should have specified that robots can't make real human-style pizza.

            Right, and this would affect Domino's "pizza" how?

            • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

              Fair point. For some reason I had images of proper pizza restaurants.

              Not watching adverts sometimes insulates you from what is mostly considered common knowledge.

    • Guess they finally threw in the towel on making a good pizza.

      Real question for the Americans: What are Dominos pizzas like in taste and price compared to other normal Pizzas? In Australia they were great. Loads of toppings, huge variety, it was actually really difficult to beat them on taste and almost impossible to beat them in bang for buck.

      Even now you go to a lovely Italian place where they make their own dough and have their own wood fired pizza stove, and the littering of ingredients is so sparse and the flavours so basic that I find it hard to justify it.

      One p

      • Real question for the Americans: What are Dominos pizzas like in taste and price compared to other normal Pizzas?

        In my part of the US, they are absolutely terrible. Greasy, bland, poor quality ingredients.

        However, they used to be a lot worse! I would say they're no longer the worst pizza you can buy from a chain, but now rank as maybe the third worst.

        The Dominos customer base is primarily college students who haven't learned that they can do much better for only a little more money.

        • I'm not surprised. I've stopped judging companies by what is said about them in other countries. As said I had an awesome Pizzahut pizza in China. Truly a delight on the tongue. Yet in Australia I instead got a tasteless ingredient sparse disc with a side of spending the entire following day on the toilet.

          I can't stand anything from KFC in the Netherlands. Yet their chips have the most amazing seasoning in Australia. McDonalds is bland and boring in Australia, yet they had all sorts of exotic burgers with i

          • Yes, I was surprised to hear that there are Pizza Huts that make great pizzas. Again, in my part of the US (these things can and do differ in different parts of the country), I would say that the worst pizza you can buy is Little Caesars, followed by Pizza Hut, then Domino's.

            Several years ago, the same three populated the list, but Domino's ranked at #1 in it. It was so bad that Domino's made a major effort to change their ways and engaged in a media blitz where they literally were saying "our pizzas don't

  • it sounds like an inexpensive way for a gang of angry Luddites to set up an ambush for a machine. Plus presumably they get pizza.
  • ...convoys of armed thugs in stolen vehicles trailing along behind these things, secure in the knowledge that people will be coming out of their houses late at night to pick up a pizza at the curb.

    "Landshark Home Raiders" is a catchy name. Or maybe, "Su Casa Es Mi Casa, Inc."

  • There are nuve pizza ovens [g3ferrari.net] and breadmakers [panasonic.com] that make the job easier.
    I suppose that making a full automated pizza machine is possible and easier than a self driving veichle.
    Or going actually to an Italian restaurant to eat pizzas, oer even ask a these restaurans to delive could and is a better option.
    • I suppose that making a full automated pizza machine is possible and easier than a self driving veichle.

      Obviously it is, because there's a variety of frozen pizza options at your local supermarket which prove it. But on the other hand, that equipment may be too expensive for a pizzeria to purchase and maintain. Self-driving cars are coming to everyone, sooner or later.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Personally I wouldn't eat one if they delivered it with seven virgins on a full moon night.
    But for people who like it, cool.

  • the issue is cost much like there fleet delivery cars that have ovens very few will actually ever be ordered by franchise owners.
    • the issue is cost much like there fleet delivery cars that have ovens very few will actually ever be ordered by franchise owners.

      Those cars only have warming ovens, which interestingly reuse at least one rear seat heating element (I'd guess they actually use all of them but I haven't looked into it far enough to find out.) This meant only having to do a bit of rearrangement work to complete the electrical system. They also stopped making them after a very short run. What percentage of them do you think have been delivered to franchises?

      • it was like 1 car to select stores. and it falls back to my original point the cost of the cars was to great. now they want a more expensive self driving car with more expensive gear that once again nobody will buy like they said its like 1 little area there covering. they just do this to get media attention for viral advertising. the cost of them pobly would be more then hiring a driver for 5 years.
        • by e3m4n ( 947977 )

          The car cost is unknown because we do not know exactly what the final vehicle will look like. If its driverless it will essentially be a warming oven with 4 wheels, a motor, a battery, gps, and driving software. Probably something smaller and lighter than a SMART car (no NHTSA requirements) but yet big enough people cant pick it up and run off with it to scrap for parts. What if it only costs $3k? Domino's was the first major chain to roll out delivery and for a while they purchased a fleet of chevy s-10's

  • The fatal flaw with this plan is that customers end up with Domino's pizza instead of one that is actually good.

  • If I order from you, and send it by self-driving vehicle with no human, I will not accept it.

    Of course, this just demonstrates how STOOOPID you are. If Dominos, and similar businesses do this, then what jobs are folks going to have to make money to order?

    Henry Ford, Sr., decided to pay the employees on the assembly line enough so that they could buy what they built in a couple of years. You like that idea... but assume other companies will pick up for what you REFUSE to do.

    Screw you. I do not suffer fools g

  • So I have to come out to the car that's parked somewhere nearby to pick up my pizza? What's next? Do I have to come down to the shop where they make it and pick it up there?

    There is something wrong with a society that is focused on ways to eliminate people from being part of it. I don't know how to solve that issue...

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