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Driverless Pizza Delivery Trucks Might Ruin Your Pizza

Out of the Oven  Pepperoni Pizza
MarquezBlake/ThinkStock

You might have heard this week that Toyota and Pizza Hut are teaming up to test out a new driverless pizza delivery truck, and it raises so many questions.  Like, what if we live in a third floor apartment?  Don’t we need a person to bring the pizza up the stairs?

When we order pizza, it’s usually because we don’t want to leave the house to acquire food.  Like we’re having one of those total no-makeup and yoga pants days with big fuzzy slippers, and we don’t feel like wearing that to the grocery store so we order pizza and stay home instead.  If there’s a driverless pizza delivery truck that brings it to us, is this going to solve a problem or create more?

Toyota and Pizza Hut announced this week they’re testing out a new e-Palette delivery van which could bring the pizza to us without the help of a delivery driver.  This van would come with a low floor and an open interior and it would be flexible enough to reconfigure for different uses.  It’s a concept vehicle for now, but Toyota plans to pilot the technology at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo and there’s other testing coming in the early 2020s.

I’ve gone over the new pizza-ordering process in my head many times, imagining how exactly this might work, and in every scenario I have to walk out the front door to go get the pizza.  There’s no driver to come to my door, so I’ll probably have to meet the van at the curb or down the street, wherever this thing decides to park.  And then, do I knock on the van’s window?  Will the van just open sesame when it figures out I’m standing there? Once I get inside the van, will I know which order is mine?  What if I grab your sausage and green pepper by mistake — will the van come back so I can exchange it?  Or, will there be a mechanical arm that pushes the pie through a little window and waits for me to grab it?  Is there a chance the mechanical arm crushes the box and ruins the pizza?  Do I tip the mechanical arm?  There’s so much they’re not telling us about this pizza-receiving process.  One thing I do know — the truck probably won’t be able to  walk up three flights of stairs, so third floor apartment dwellers are probably going to have to meet the truck in the parking lot.  On a ten degree day, popping a frozen pizza in the oven sounds like a much warmer idea.

I’m sure Pizza Hut and Toyota are working on these things, and that’s why it will take at least two more years before we see these driverless pizza shuttles in the Treasure Valley.  In the meantime, don’t take that pizza delivery guy for granted!

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