Ford has announced its launching of autonomous pizza delivery service in Miami. In addition, the auto giant has selected the South Florida venue as its new technology test site for many of its latest groundbreaking business models.
While Ford has teamed with Domino’s Pizza and started trials for their self-driving food deliveries, it does not intend to stop there. Next on Ford’s Miami agenda is a project with Postmates, a delivery company. The testing is intended to help launch self-driving services. The company projects its venture will come to market in 2021, with Miami as the company’s first U.S. city to have service.
Ford has invested big in Miami and in mapping its topography and streets. It pumped $1 billion into Argo AI, which will be painstakingly evaluating the city’s roadways in order for the driverless projects to begin running.
The iconic motor company has begun building a maintenance hub in the Wynwood section of Miami that will serve as a dispatch center and operations depot.
While the projects on board seem to focus on commercial self-driving vehicles, Ford shows signs of continuing its foray into South Florida with additional goals such as ride-sharing.
Sherif Marakby, Ford’s vice president of autonomous vehicles and electrification teased about upcoming projects, “We’re starting with commercial deliveries because it’s a natural progression for our Domino’s and Postmates partnerships,” he said, “So you’ll hear more from us. Our strategy is covering both—moving people and goods.”
As far as customers go, Ford has challenges to face. They’ll study a range of issues, such as the willingness of customers to come meet a vehicle from high-rise apartments, and how customers use multi-language voice-recognition systems.
The rules of the road are another matter for self-driving cars that are learning to stop in the best place for dropping off goods in busy urban streets without illegally double parking.
Miami‘s diverse mix of businesses and residences helped make it a front runner for Ford’s test market.
The city’s ranking as the fifth most congested city in the United States, according to the annual Global Traffic Scorecard compiled by Inrix, a specialist in real-time traffic analytics, means commuters in Dade County spend an average of 64 hours stuck in traffic every year. Ford aims to conduct around-the-clock operations which is right on track with the city’s goal of reducing peak-travel-time congestion.
As Ford continues to gain knowledge in how businesses use these emerging services, there’s still a critical unanswered question: what car will it use?
Ford has disclosed that it is developing an all-new autonomous hybrid vehicle directed for deliveries and ride-sharing. But it has not unveiled any date projections for showcasing this vehicle.
Marakby stated, “We’re well underway on the development of that vehicle, but a lot of things we’re expecting to learn about, like the software interface and how people access their delivery with a screen or authenticate themselves—it’s not too late for some things. But it might be for others.”