Ford is working with Postmates and Walmart on a pilot program for self-driving grocery deliveries, the businesses introduced on Wednesday.
“We’re exploring how self-driving autos can ship many on a regular basis items comparable to groceries, diapers, pet meals and private care objects,” Ford stated in a press launch.
The grocery supply pilot experiment will probably be primarily based in Miami, the place Ford’s self-driving automotive firm, Argo, is already testing self-driving autos. Ford had been testing self-driving deliveries with Postmates previous to this announcement.
Like most automotive corporations, Ford is racing to develop totally autonomous car know-how. However Ford has been extra proactive than most of its rivals in exploring the non-technical points of a self-driving automotive service. Final 12 months, I bought to sit within the seat swimsuit of a faux self-driving automotive Ford was utilizing to check pedestrian reactions to self-driving automotive know-how. Ford additionally experimented with delivering pizzas with mock-driverless autos in a partnership with Dominos.
Ford’s collaboration with Postmates over the previous few months has been targeted on determining one of the simplest ways for patrons to work together with a supply car. Driverless automobiles will not have a driver to hold deliveries to the client’s door, so self-driving autos will want some form of locker that prospects can open to take away their merchandise. Ford has been experimenting with multi-locker supply vans, permitting its automobiles to serve a number of prospects on a single journey—with out worrying about one buyer swiping one other’s deliveries.
Ford additionally introduced final month that Washington, DC can be the second metropolis the place Argo will probably be getting ready to launch a industrial service in 2021 (along with Miami). Ford has labored arduous to domesticate relationships with native authorities officers, with Mayor Muriel Bowser attending final month’s announcement on DC’s waterfront.
Ford is betting that every one of those preparations will assist the corporate scale up shortly as soon as its self-driving know-how is prepared. That is essential as a result of Ford seems to be considerably behind the market leaders: Waymo (which is aiming to launch a industrial service this 12 months) and GM’s Cruise (aiming to launch in 2019). Nevertheless it’s additionally a dangerous technique as a result of if Argo’s know-how is not prepared on time, then all of Ford’s cautious planning might turn into wasted effort.