Ford Working On Self-Driving Food Delivery Experience

Ford Motor Company is experimenting with a self-driving food delivery service pilot program that aims to deliver food on-demand to hungry customers — without a driver behind the wheel.

Ford is partnering with Postmates, an online logistics company, in a pilot program currently operating in the Miami and Miami Beach areas.

Currently, the pilot program works with over 70 business, according to Ford.

“Our Postmates pilot is currently underway in Miami and Miami Beach with more than 70 businesses participating, including local favorites like Coyo Taco. For residents in the area, when you order tacos — or almost anything, really — through Postmates, you may be given the option to have your items delivered by a self-driving research vehicle,” Ford said in a June 11 Medium post.

Ford has outfitted a Ford Transit Connect vehicle with a locker system that secures ordered food so it can be delivered safely to customers. Restaurant workers simply place the food in the locker, allowing it to be whisked away in what will one day be a fully autonomous vehicle. Currently, a driver is behind the wheel of the Transit Connects, but Ford is continuing to develop their self-driving technology with hopes that the drivers will not be needed in the near future.

Ford detailed the user experience in the June Medium post:

After the restaurant employee types his access code into the screen, one of the lockers will automatically open so that he can place the food inside. Each locker has two cup holders so that you don’t have to worry about losing half your beverage in transit.

When the vehicle arrives at its destination, the customer receives a text notification indicating the delivery is ready for pickup.

Upon meeting the vehicle at the curb, consumers enter an access code into the touch screen and the appropriate locker will open. Audio prompts direct the interaction and lights will illuminate the designated locker. We’re making interactions with the vehicle as easy as possible through various sensory technologies built into the Transit Connect.

Ford says the Transit Connect built for this pilot program is their first vehicle that is modified specifically to test various interfaces, including the touch screen, locker system and audio system designed for the food delivery service pilot.

Ford hopes that the technology they’re developing through the partnership with Postmates will help streamline delivery services for local business and help expand their reach to potential customers.

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