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The Year Of The Self-Driving Delivery Pilot

The Year Of The Self-Driving Delivery Pilot

Autonomous vehicles hit the road this year in the name of retail, with pilots of delivery services for groceries and takeout coming to U.S. cities. To bring these innovations to fruition, technology companies and retailers decided to join forces.

Ford and Postmates kicked off 2018 by announcing a new partnership that would allow the automaker to test its self-driving technology for deliveries. (Those plans were laid out by Ford CEO Jim Hackett in a speech at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January). At the time, the company said that its Argo AI test vehicles would use Waze software for real-time navigation as well as traffic services. It was reported at the time that the vehicles would be deployed in a yet-to-be-named city.

Then, in June , the companies announced that they were testing the technology in Miami and Miami Beach. In a blog post at the time, Ford Autonomous Vehicle Business Team member Alexandra Ford English wrote that the research vehicles were operated manually with drivers. But she wrote that the pilot vehicles were designed to look like they are self-driving , with the focus of the research on the first and last mile of the delivery experience.

Still, English noted that the technology was meant to “inform the design of our purpose-built, self-driving vehicle that’s scheduled to arrive in 2021.” She went on to say that with its Postmates partnership it is “testing methods for efficient deliveries to help local businesses expand their reach and provide a seamless experience to customers.” Those could include “local favorites like Coyo Taco,” among other options.

To load up the vehicles for deliveries, a restaurant employee types a code into the vehicle’s screen to open one of its lockers and stores the food inside. When the vehicle ends up at its destination, a diner […]

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