Ford to partner with Postmates on self-driving deliveries

Ford revs up self-driving car and smart city plans

Ford's move is the latest example of automakers looking to seize new business opportunities from the growth of autonomous vehicles.

Ford has teamed up with gig-economy start-up Postmates to develop its autonomous vehicle technology.

In a notice posted on its blog earlier this week, Postmates said: "As the first on-demand delivery partner for Ford's self-driving program, the first phase of our pilot will evaluate and measure what the merchant experience needs to be at the point of delivery, what the customer experience needs at the point of drop-off, and how the hardware of self-driving technology may need to be outfitted when integrated with an on-demand network". The news was unveiled at CES 2018 in Las Vegas.

Through this study, Ford plans to get a better understanding of how customers will want to interact with delivery vehicles and what neighborhoods they'll feel safe walking out to the curb to retrieve a meal.

Although many details around the partnership are unclear - such as when and where the deliveries will take place - the companies said Postmates' customers will be chosen at random to receive deliveries via a self-driving vehicle. "It puts us in a great position to scale quickly" for the robotaxi business Ford plans to launch by 2021, Farley said.

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"We are working to verify that the technology underpinning future self-driving cars operates safely and reliably, to ensure that our self-driving vehicles are created to deliver trusted experiences and to prove out that the business model under which they are deployed is viable", he wrote in a blog post.

Ford has announced a partnership with chipmaker Qualcomm to push the adoption of cellular vehicle-to-everything technology (C-V2X). Intel was almost 2% lower, and Nvidia added 0.4%.

Developed in partnership with Silicon Valley company Autonomic, the Transportation Mobility Cloud would "manage information flow and basic transactions between a variety of components in the transportation ecosystem - service providers, personal vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, mass transit systems and city infrastructure, including traffic lights and parking locations". Ford says its autonomous vehicles will start ferrying meals and groceries sometime this quarter, though there's no word yet on what city the service will debut in.

Corporate leadership at Ford imagines a future where cars are constantly making deliveries or pickups.

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