Ford Deploying Self-Driving Cars to Deliver Pizza in Miami
Ford announced Tuesday that it is deploying a fleet of self-driving cars to deliver pizza to Miami residents.
Ford executive Sherif Marakby, who heads up self-driving and electric car development at the company, explained in a post that the new program is part of Ford’s goal to release full service autonomous vehicles on the road by 2021.
For the first phase of the plan, the automaker partnered with Miami-Dade County, Domino’s Pizza, and the delivery service Postmates. Ford’s self driving cars will act as couriers, ferrying food and groceries from businesses to consumers in the Miami area.
Marakby suggests replacing human couriers with self-driving cars could eliminate some of the issues with delivery services. Autonomous vehicles could be programmed so they don’t illegally double park as couriers often do, and customers wouldn’t have to spend extra money tipping the driver.
Ford will study how employees and customers in Miami-Dade County interact with the autonomous vehicles to find out how people respond to self driving cars.
“What we learn from this customer experience research will be applied to the design of our purpose-built self-driving vehicle that we plan to launch in 2021 to support the expansion of our service,” Marakby writes.
In order to specifically train their self-driving cars for the hardships of navigating Miami’s traffic-heavy streets, Ford has also partnered with Argo AI, another autonomous vehicle maker. Argo AI already maintains a fleet of self driving cars in Miami. The cars are currently mapping the city streets and accruing data about the driving habits of Miami residents.
Deploying even a small test fleet of autonomous vehicles requires significant infrastructure. To that end, Ford is constructing an operations center near downtown Miami where self-driving cars from the test fleet will be stored and routinely inspected for faults. “These vehicles will need to be maintained, repaired and cleaned, including prying sticky gum off the seats,” Marakby said.
Once the whole self-driving car thing is figured out, perhaps Ford should invest in building an autonomous gum scraper.