Toyota unveiled its design of a self-driving concept vehicle at CES in Las Vegas today and a deal with Pizza Hut to use such a vehicle to deliver pizza was announced right after.
However, there is more than that under the hood.
Pizza Hut became one of the founding members of a new ‘mobility services business alliance’ that also includes Amazon, Mazda, Uber and Didi, Uber’s Chinese rival.
Toyota’s self-driving vehicle concept is called e-Palette and the intent of the global partnership is to explore the future of pizza delivery and other initiates aimed at improving mobility around the world.
“In our ongoing and relentless pursuit to own and define the modern pizza experience, we are focused on technology-based solutions that enable our team members and drivers to deliver even better customer experiences,” stated Artie Starrs, president, Pizza Hut, U.S. “With Toyota, we are partnering with an undisputed leader in human mobility with a reputation for innovation, reliability and efficiency, as we define the pizza delivery experience of the future.”
The interesting dynamic here is the combination of some major brands, such as Amazon and Uber, to collectively leverage Toyota’s proprietary Mobility Services Platform to develop a suite of connected mobility advancements and create a broad-based ecosystem of hardware and software support to help a range of companies use advanced mobility tech.
Toyota said it plans to start testing the e-Palette vehicle concept in several regions, including the U.S., as early as 2020. The actual last steps of the pizza delivery are likely to be handed off to yet another piece of robotics technology.
Starting early this year, Pizza Hut delivery vehicles will be equipped with dual communication technology to capture data on driver patterns and behaviors, with plans to improve the existing driver-delivery system, including dispatching. Full deployment in the U.S. is expected by next year.
Last year, Pizza Hut launched voice ordering through Amazon Alexa, a pizza tracker system and the Hut Rewards loyalty program.
The Toyota e-Palette could impact Pizza Hut’s delivery business in the future or even serve as a mobile kitchen in parts of the world where the experience would match consumer interests, according to a joint statement from the companies.
Companies are starting to explore what can actually be done with self-driving vehicles.