Ford and Dominos are jumping on the autonomously-piloted bandwagon with a new pilot project, which should eventually see a fleet of robotic cars roaming the streets of Miami, two large Meat Feasts in tow.
Ford’s self-driving experiments in Miami are taking a different approach to most other companies. Rather than focusing on just the self-driving technology, it sounds like the company is trying to work out how to monetize self-driving cars in a modern-day city.
Part of the solution is a delivery service that uses self-driving cars, for which Ford is partnering with Postmates and Dominos. Reading between the lines of Ford’s discussion with Recode, it seems that customers will order through the Postmates system, a self-driving car will go to the Dominos location, a worker will put the pizza in the car, and then the car will drive to the delivery address, and the customer will have to come outside to get their pizza.
In addition, Ford is working with Lyft to develop the app side of a self-driving ride-hailing service. Uber and Waymo are already trialling ride-hailing services using autonomous vehicles, so it sounds like Ford is partnering with Lyft to catch up on the customer-facing app side of the business.
The final piece of the puzzle is a self-driving “terminal,” which will be the home base for the autonomous vehicles. Uber and Lyft don’t currently have to worry about cleaning, maintaining, or storing their vehicles, as they’re all owned by the drivers. With a self-driving fleet, however, the operators are going to have to get into the messy business of cleaning puke out of carpets and doing oil changes, so it makes sense that Ford is working out the most efficient way to make that happen.