Ford today shed light on its autonomous delivery partnership with startup Postmates in Miami and Miami Beach, Florida.
The pilot program, which launched in March, allows users to place orders from 70 businesses, including local favorites like Coyo Taco.
Ford Transit Connect cars with multiple lockers, speakers that provide audible instructions, a touchscreen, and two cupholders perform multiple deliveries in a single route. Businesses receive codes that allow employees to place goods in the vehicles’ locking storage compartments, and customers get text messages with an access code when their order arrives.
The cars aren’t fully autonomous, to be clear — human drivers are behind the wheel. They’re intended to test “how businesses and consumers interact with [prototypical] self-driving vehicles,” Ford explained.
“Ultimately, we’re trying to make interaction with self-driving vehicles as easy as possible,” the automaker said. “Through our collaboration with Postmates, we’re testing different methods for efficient deliveries to help local businesses expand their reach and provide a seamless experience to customers.”
In a Medium post in February, Sherif Marakby, vice president of Ford’s autonomous vehicles division, wrote that the automaker would establish a self-driving vehicle operations center in downtown Miami and that Ford would work with local dealers to integrate their operations into the terminal.
Marakby also said that Ford is collaborating with Argo AI, an artificial intelligence company based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to map city streets and improve its self-driving technology.
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