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Ford experiments with self-driving delivery vans in Miami

Ford (F) has time and again emphasized that it is determined to launch self-driving cars in 2021 intended for ride-hailing as well as food delivery services. In the latest development, the automaker sheds light on its new pilot program — self-driving food delivery services — that is being deployed at Miami and Miami Beach.

Early this year, Ford began testing its self-driving vans in Miami. And to test the capacity of these delivery vans, the automaker entered into a partnership with a San-Francisco based delivery startup Postmates. Ford is evaluating how consumers ordering takeout, would interact with the van that can deliver their order. With the help of this pilot program, users in Miami can place orders from 70 different local businesses.

In the latest development, the automaker sheds light on its new pilot program — self-driving food delivery services — that is being deployed at Miami and Miami Beach.

On placing the order, the package arrives in Ford’s autonomous vehicle. The user is intimated via message on arrival of the order. To access the order, the user needs to plug in the code. The users are guided with the help of audio-visual prompts. However, the cars currently being tested is not autonomous. The cars, that are designed to appear as autonomous, are manually driven and have sensors. The aim of this experiment is to check how consumers interact with the vehicle. Ford is already testing a similar program in partnership with Dominos (DPZ).

Ford is also collaborating with a Pennsylvania startup Argo AI, an artificial intelligence company. This collaboration is expected to boost the company’s autonomous technology and to map city streets.

Autonomous vehicles are expected to transform urban life. By 2025, the self-driving market is expected to touch $77 billion, according to Boston Consulting Group (BCG).  Due to this enormous growth potential, each automaker is working towards having a hold on self-driving vehicles. Companies are pumping money into this category.  Though in infancy, this self-driving cars market is crowded. But Ford is making a smart move by working on manufacturing autonomous vehicles that can be used for food delivery. This will strengthen the company’s position in the market.

Though Ford slightly lags behind rival General Motors (GM), the automaker that entered into a partnership with Lyft is being smart and careful in launching its self-driving vehicles. The company’s ambitious plans also include the launch of self-driving taxi fleet in the future. Investors who want to make some money from companies that are making self-driving cars can keep an eye on Ford.

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