Pizza Hut and Toyota are partnering on an autonomous delivery vehicle called e-Palette that could make the delivery process driverless.
Despite the implications for current drivers, Pizza Hut said driverless delivery could create more jobs than it displaces.
The robots are coming…and they’re bringing pizza? At CES 2018 in Las Vegas, Pizza Hut and Toyota unveiled their plans for a fully-autonomous delivery vehicles that could bring pizza to your door without a human driver.
The concept, called e-Palette, was further detailed in a press release as well. Pizza Hut has already begun developing algorithms to improve the reliability of deliveries, and driverless delivery is part of its initiative to “provide the best delivery experience,” the release said.
The obvious implications for current drivers are pretty clear—they’ll be out of a job if this thing makes it to market. However, in a Twitter discussion about the e-Palette’s impact on jobs, Pizza Hut said that it could actually create more jobs than it destroys.
After announcing the concept on Twitter, a user named Jennifer Ryan asked Pizza Hut how it would move delivery drivers into other positions and avoid putting “several hundreds of thousands of people out of jobs?” While the official Pizza Hut Twitter account didn’t directly answer Ryan’s question, it did posit that more jobs would be created as a result of e-Palette.
“It actually could create more jobs by opening the pool of “drivers” to those who do not own vehicles. They might act more as servers, focusing on hospitality,” Pizza Hut said on Twitter.
Pizza Hut’s argument is one that has been posed by the tech industry since AI came back into fashion a few years ago. The idea is that AI and automation will free up workers to focus on higher-level tasks.
In addition to working as a delivery vehicle, e-Palette could also be used as a sort of mobile kitchen in certain markets as well, the release said, which could create other jobs as well. However, it’s still likely a long ways off.
Until the e-Pallette comes to fruition, Pizza Hut will be working with Toyota to improve its existing driver and delivery ecosystem. The pair will be testing communication technology as a way to “capture data on driver patterns and behaviors,” which will improve performance and safety, the release said.
Still, the full impact of AI on the workforce remains to be seen. Many have argued along Pizza Hut’s lines that AI will create more jobs than it displaces, but the opposite has been argued by experts in the field as well. Now, it’s time to play the waiting game.