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News Ford explores autonomous delivery vans

18:03  13 june  2018
18:03  13 june  2018 Source:   autofile.ca

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Ford has been using Miami as a testbed for its self-driving vehicles since earlier this year. And more recently, the auto giant joined with Postmates to see how people ordering take-out food would interact with an autonomous delivery van .

Ford is partnering with on-demand delivery company Postmates to explore the next step in self-driving technology — delivery services.

Ford is partnering with on-demand delivery company Postmates to explore the next step in self-driving technology — delivery services.

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Ford has shown us a glimpse of that future as part of its new partnership with delivery startup Postmates. They’re testing an autonomous on-demand delivery pilot program in Miami and Miami Beach, Florida with some 70 businesses.

For now, the autonomous vehicles are not actually operating autonomously but are manually operated by human drivers. The vans are just testing different methods of food delivery . However, Ford plans a fully autonomous delivery service by 2021.

Currently in the pilot phase in Miami and Miami Beach, the project gives customers who place orders through Postmates the choice to have their items delivered by a self-driving Ford Transit Connect. Well, not quite. Because the aim of the project is to explore how merchants and customers interact with a driverless delivery van, the onus is on the steps required at both ends of the delivery process, so the delivery itself is made by a Transit Connect with a driver.

Ford Transit Connect driverless delivery van© Provided by Autofile Ford Transit Connect driverless delivery van The steps leading up to a home delivery are the same … you order, somebody at the merchant, say a restaurant because that’s what most people have delivered, prepares your order and gets it ready to deliver. But instead of handing it over to a delivery driver, the restaurant employee types an access code into a touchscreen on the outside of the van, opening one of three lockers.

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Ford has a vision for the future, and it's apparently one where an army of autonomous vans and drones deliver things to your doorstep. Ford believes the pressure to develop mobility solutions in urban areas will grow in the near future due to the rise in local deliveries from online sales.

Ford employees created the Autolivery concept as a way to autonomously deliver packages including drones inside for carrying them to your door. UPS tests van -mounted drone delivery system. Washintgon DC is about to get cute little autonomous delivery robots.

Ford envisions the ability for a driverless delivery van to handle deliveries for a variety of goods, from food to sporting goods to hardware … whatever, so it equipped the pilot vans with several sized and differently equipped storage lockers. The restaurant ones are equipped with cupholders, for example, to keep ordered drinks from bouncing about and spilling.

The driverless van would then do what autonomous vehicles are designed to do and navigate its way from the retailer to the customer. When it arrives at the destination, it sends a text to the customer’s mobile device saying the purchase has arrived and supplying an access code the customer enters onto the touchscreen. Doing so opens the locker with the item inside, directing the customer with lights and audio prompts.

The pilot vans are equipped with the items the autonomous delivery van will have when it arrives in 2021 — the external touchscreen, the locker storage system and the external audio system. The autonomous driving system is being tested separately.

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Ford Launches New Autonomous Vehicles LLC Business .
Ford has committed $4 billion to developing self-driving technology and jump-starting a business that revolves around automated vehicles. Starting about the time it made a billion-dollar investment in Argo AI during the spring of 2017, the company made internal plans to spend an additional $3 billion through 2023 to get a business revolving around automated vehicles off the ground. Ford executives revealed the cumulative financial figure Tuesday as the company’s self-driving-vehicle efforts reached a new milestone: The company has spun several of the businesses into their own subsidiary called Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC.

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