Ford is working with Postmates and Walmart on a pilot program for self-driving grocery deliveries, the businesses introduced on Wednesday.
“We are exploring how self-driving vehicles can deliver many everyday goods such as groceries, diapers, pet food and personal care items,” Ford stated in a press launch.
The grocery supply pilot experiment will likely be primarily based in Miami, the place Ford’s self-driving automobile firm, Argo, is already testing self-driving autos. Ford had been testing self-driving deliveries with Postmates previous to this announcement.
Like most automobile corporations, Ford is racing to develop absolutely autonomous automobile know-how. But Ford has been extra proactive than most of its rivals in exploring the non-technical features of a self-driving automobile service. Last 12 months, I obtained to take a seat within the seat swimsuit of a pretend self-driving automobile Ford was utilizing to check pedestrian reactions to self-driving automobile 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 couple of months has been targeted on determining one of the simplest ways for patrons to work together with a supply automobile. Driverless automobiles will not have a driver to hold deliveries to the shopper’s door, so self-driving autos will want some sort of locker that clients can open to take away their merchandise. Ford has been experimenting with multi-locker supply vans, permitting its automobiles to serve a number of clients on a single journey—with out worrying about one buyer swiping one other’s deliveries.
Ford additionally introduced final month that Washington, DC could be the second metropolis the place Argo will likely be getting ready to launch a industrial service in 2021 (along with Miami). Ford has labored onerous 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 rapidly as soon as its self-driving know-how is prepared. That’s 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). But it is also 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 become wasted effort.