The Situation Room – If driverless pizza delivery vehicles take away jobs, who’s next?

Mac Olsen


I’m not a fan of self-driving cars because I don’t trust a technology that I would be turning my life over to.

But now the bigger issue is – how many jobs will be automated of existence if driverless vehicles become a prominent part of the landscape?

Ford Motor Company in the U.S. is partnering with Domino’s Pizza USA. to test a driverless pizza delivery vehicle in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The National Post had a story about this matter on Aug. 29.

“The goal of the partnership is to examine how customers react to stepping out of their homes and walking to the car to fetch their pizza from a locked warming compartment, rather than having it carried to their doorstep,” says the story.

“We’re interested to learn what people think about this type of delivery,” says Russell Weiner, the president of Domino’s USA. “The majority of our questions are about the last 50 feet of the delivery experience. For instance, how will customers react to coming outside to get their food?”

The story also says that Ford CEO Jim Hackett wants to building not only robot taxis, he’s looking at food delivery “as another potential revenue source for autonomous autos.”

Let’s consider the issue of the “last 50 feet” first. I have rarely ordered pizza for home delivery, preferring the dining-in experience instead. But it’s not the “last 50 feet” of going to the self-driving vehicle to get my pizza that would be off-putting to me.

It’s seeing nobody at the steering wheel that would cause me the greatest concern. I don’t trust any vehicle that goes from Point A to Point B without a human at the controls.

All the software engineering in the world cannot preclude the possibility that, a) the vehicle won’t be hacked; and b) it won’t be prone to some major malfunction whereby it crashes into another vehicle or kills somebody crossing the street.

Those are the strongest objections I can raise to any form of self-driving vehicles. They simply cannot be trusted with passenger or public safety.

Now, for the second issue – and criticism – regarding self-driving vehicles.

If self-driving pizza delivery vehicles catch on, how long will be before another employment classification is automated out of existence?

Granted, we have self-checkout counters at retailers like Walmart, and self-ordering meal systems like that found in a McDonald’s restaurant. The classification of cashier hasn’t been automated out of existence with those automated systems – yet.

But before we get too far into the self-driving vehicles for pizza delivery, we should take a step back and debate whether such technologies are beneficial or a detriment to public safety and the labour force.

My money is on the latter. I’ve always believed that technology can improve the human condition. But there are certainly limits to what technology can and should do.

So let’s put the brakes on self-driving vehicles before it’s too late.

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