People Say ‘Thank You’ to Pizza-Delivery Robots

Last summer Ford collaborated with pizza chain Domino’s to deliver pizza. Ford’s self-driving test vehicles drove fresh pizza in Ann Arbor in Michigan to customers. Even if it looks a bit like an overkill for a simple pizza delivery robot, Ford is regarding such a use case as the future.

The tests have shown some interesting and unexpected behaviors, of how humans interact with the autonomous car. One thing was that most of them approached the car barefoot to get their pizza. That insight tells Ford to enable its cars to drive as close as possible to the house entrances to avoid humans stepping on sharp debris on the roads.

Then customers tended to say ‘thank you’ after the delivery. To the car! Humans are polite, even that some of us may not think so, but this is a phenomenon that we have noticed with digital voice assistants such as Amazon Echo or Google Home. Ford’s autonomous cars are not yet reacting to those thank yous, but it opens interesting UX-design perspectives in the interaction between humans and machines.

To open the car and get the pizza, most customers were OK to enter the last four digits of their phone number, but not so much with the last four digits of their credit card.

Those insights will help Ford to implement some changes once they are starting tests with parcel delivery service Postmate later this year.

This article has also been published in German.

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