Ford has teamed up with on-demand delivery platform Postmates to begin trialling a self-driving delivery service with more than 70 business partners in the US.
The Miami and Miami Beach pilot will give some residents in the area the option to have their items delivered by a ‘self-driving research vehicle’. These vehicles have been designed to look like self-driving vehicles but will be manually driven to assess how consumers and businesses respond to the service initially, while Ford developers its self-driving tech in separate test vehicles.
The Postmates delivery vehicles are presented in the form of overhauled Ford Transit Connect models. These vans feature a locker system where customers’ food is stored, enabling Ford and Postmates to serve multiple customers on each journey.
There are three lockers in each vehicle, of differing sizes, that can carry both food and goods to customers. These lockers are accessed by a special access code that both the restaurant employee – in order to place the order in the van – and the customer – to pick up their order – will have to use.
“Throughout the year, Ford and Postmates will conduct pilot programs to explore how self-driving technology could change the delivery experience for consumers, enable brick-and-mortar retailers to reach new customer bases, and transform the way commerce moves in the communities in which we operate,” said Sherif Marakby, VP of autonomous vehicles and electrification at Ford, in a Medium post.
“In the future, when a consumer uses Postmates to place a purchase?—?whether for groceries, takeout or other goods?—?a self-driving vehicle could be what delivers her order. As part of our testing trials, we’ll study both what the merchant experience needs to be at the point of delivery and what the customer experience needs to be at that same point.”