One large pizza, extra onions, hold the tech gimmicks
Driverless pizza deliveries do nothing for customer service, argues Jane McCallion
News has come out today about Domino's Pizza collaborating with Ford to create self-driving pizza delivery vehicles.
I have a fundamental problem with this proposition and it's not one of my normal hobby horses. No, my issue is that were this to become the standard method of delivery I would never receive another pizza again, which is sad because pizza is my favourite food.
This probably sounds a bit dramatic, but it's true for one simple fact: my house isn't easily accessible by car.
Also, even human deliverers, who have the advantage of being able to get out of their car and walk to the door, find delivering pizza to me difficult as applications like Google Maps simply aren't capable of directing people to my house. I can always tell when a newbie has joined the Domino's team because I'll get a slightly panicked phone call from someone driving up and down the very short adjoining street looking for this phantom house of mine.
I also have better things to do than staring at a GPS tracker while I wait for my food to arrive (as is required by this service).
When it comes to finding problems with stories like this, I often hark back to my rural roots and I'm certain it will be a problem there (for reasons that go beyond the issue of Sat Nav), but I'm now an urbanite and can't imagine I'm the only one in this scenario either.
Aside from the problem solving and access aspects outlined above, which an autonomous car simply wouldn't be able to solve, this idea overlooks a number of (in my opinion) obvious problems.
People have to go to the car to pick up their meal: How do they know which is theirs? How can you ensure they only take what they ordered? If the answer is that each vehicle only carries one order at a time, isn't that wasteful, particularly at peak times? And what about people with limited mobility or who would find it hard to otherwise leave the house? (This does seem to have occurred to the president of Domino's USA as well, at least in part).
An unmanned car is also surely more vulnerable to vandalism, too. And that's before I get onto my usual "what about the workers?" quest.
This isn't to say I rubbish the idea of autonomous vehicles all together, or at least not any more the recent spate of terrorist attacks that use vehicular homicide as the method of choice changed that. But gimmicks like this (and I'm sorry, it's a gimmick) won't do much to help further the idea of driverless vehicles being useful and worthwhile in the eyes of the public.