Pizza Hut investing in autonomous pizza oven vehicle

Next to hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries and Oreo cookies, pizza stands as one of the most popular foods in the United States. Not much surprise there. However, Pizza Hut is partnering with Toyota to develop an autonomous pizza delivery truck, sans any driver, that will deliver the cheesy delight right to your door. Never mind that some specs look suspiciously like a giant toaster.

Toyota’s e-Palette platform could revolutionize commerce

Toyota unveiled its plans for their e-Palette platform at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (CES 2018). This concept vehicle mixes mobility, commerce and autonomous driving that could be used by many different kinds of business and health enterprises. In addition to Pizza Hut, initial launch partners include Amazon, Didi, Uber and Mazda.

The vehicle will be electric and fully autonomous. Design plans call for a low floor and open interior space, so that it can be used for different purposes. The length of the e-Palette will range from 13 to 23 feet, making it big enough to hold small stores or offices. It will likely come in three different sizes.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda said, “"E-Palette will be fully electric, and will be powered by Toyota's autonomous technology. Or, if they prefer, partner companies can use their own automotive driving system instead.

"In either case, e-Palette will include Toyota's Guardian technologies, which will act as a safety net,” Toyoda explained. “It's an open, flexible platform that can be easily adapted to support a range of uses, including ride sharing, delivering, and retail."

In Pizza Hut’s press release, President Milind Pant said, "We are about making it easier to get a better pizza and Toyota is about providing mobility for all. Toyota is an exceptional fit as a technology partner to accelerate our commitment to the best delivery experience."

The press release notes that Toyota will begin testing its e-Palette platform in the U.S. in 2020, with plans for the e-Palette to be used during the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.   

Toyota and Pizza Hut will start studying driver patterns and behaviors in order to create maximum functionality and safety. Pizza Hut sees potential for the autonomous delivery vehicle as a way for customers to receive better pizza, and believes that, “given the flexibility of the e-Palette design, [it] could even serve as a mobile kitchen,” if the demand is high.

For those that decry the loss of jobs an e-Palette pizza vehicle could create, Pizza Hut spokesmen said in a tweet that the concept could grow jobs for people who now have no vehicles of their own to make deliveries. These same people could ride along in the autonomous vehicles and focus more on customer service as the food travels to its destination.

It is this kind of idea that can push humanity into accepting a world dominated by machines. If it smells and tastes so enticingly and is hot right out of the oven, will anyone care if there’s no human driver? Somehow, I doubt it.

Group Matrix Blog – January 15, 2017 – by Sharon Bowles



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