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Food and Transportation Link Up at CES

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is one of the most notable events of the year for the technology industry. New gadgets, keynote speeches and emerging technology platforms are displayed for the public, and hot takes abound on what will become popular in the coming year. The 2018 show is no different, and has a topic of particular import to the food industry: food companies and motor companies are working together to bridge food delivery.

The first partnership unveiled at CES was between Toyota and Pizza Hut. The companies are partnering to launch a self-driving concept vehicle for deliveries. The alliance will leverage Toyota’s Mobility Services Platform to develop a suite of connected mobility solutions and a customizable autonomous vehicle. Pizza Hut and Toyota will test dual communication technology in existing Pizza Hut delivery vehicles to capture data on driver patterns and behaviors.

Toyota’s partnership extends beyond just Pizza Hut. The company created a mobility service business alliance, which includes Amazon, Didi, Mazda and Uber. TechCrunch reported that the company’s “presentation of this vision, from something as basic as having Toyoda himself make the announcement, to the selection of its inaugural industry partners, which include Uber, Didi, Pizza Hut, Amazon and more, show a seriousness that should make the rest of the industry stand up and take note: Toyota’s moves here could lead to a significant market leadership position down the road, so long as it continues to invest in the area and is willing to do so with a long-term view of when its investment will result in significant return.”

Not to be undone, Postmates unveiled that it would partner with Ford Motor Co. to expand its driverless delivery experiment beyond pizza. The companies will team up on a pilot program which will use human drivers to help Ford better understand how an autonomous delivery system could work, specifically with customers having to walk out and fetch orders themselves, reported San Francisco Gate (Jan. 9).

Ironically, Ford partnered with Pizza Hut rival Domino’s in 2017 to use semiautonomous vehicles to deliver pizzas. The partnership with Postmates will serve as a further dive into the world of autonomous delivery, and for this pizza lover, that sounds like good news.

Although it will likely be years before these technologies are deployed en masse, the unveilings once again prove that CES can capture the hearts and imaginations of consumers across the nation. As for developments, you know you can always trust the Food Institute to keep you in the loop.