Ford and app-based delivery startup Postmates are partnering in a project to see how businesses and consumers interact with self-driving delivery cars – although, for now, there will be drivers behind the tinted windows.
The goal is to “test different methods for efficient deliveries,” as autonomous vehicle technology becomes a realistic possibility for use of companies from a wide range of industries in the future.
In the experiment, a Ford employee will receive an order from a customer – a Subway sandwich order, for example – which the employee will then retrieve and place inside a locker within the vehicle. Next, the Ford employee will drive to the customers’ GPS location and dispatch a text message to the customer with an access code, which the customer receives in the form of an alert that the item is ready to be picked up.
In terms of the meaning of these kinds of project to the logistics industry, companies like Uber Freight are trying to change the way shippers go about getting their product from the warehouse into customers’ hands. With autonomous vehicles in the final testing phases at various companies, the logistics business will continue to see the development of operations and processes that are being built into tech companies’ digital interfaces.
Ford says it expects to release its own autonomous cars in 2021.