Your Next Postmates Delivery May Not Come With a Driver


The company a year ago began using an autonomous Ford Fusion to deliver Domino's orders in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Ford Motors will partner with the delivery service Postmates as the auto manufacturer continues its slow march towards developing self-driving vehicles.

"Any time you are not carrying goods or people in this business you are not making money", Jim Farley, Ford's president of global markets, told a technology conference in Las Vegas (Reuters).

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".

Ford is one of several vehicle makers looking to use self-driving cars as a service.

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Tests are scheduled to begin by the end of March. The company says it operates in over 250 cities and makes about 2.5 deliveries per month. It envisages its autonomous cars being summoned by small or medium businesses to conduct deliveries, as an alternative to more traditional logistics options. "Maybe some things work perfectly with autonomous vehicles, maybe some things don't". One day earlier, Toyota teased a self-driving Pizza Hut and Amazon vehicle created to make deliveries and serve as a mobile store. The company is also interested in discovering how to design delivery-only vehicles.

Ford is working with Qualcomm to connect autonomous vehicles with pedestrians, traffic signals and cyclists.

Ford also announced a cloud-based smart city platform, created to facilitate communication between various transportation methods and services operating within them, including individual vehicle data.

As well as piloting the vehicle technology, the tests will allow Ford to test its new partnership platform which may underpin its future business model.

On stage at the event, Ford executive director Don Butler demoed how an autonomous vehicle could realize if the driver is ill and pull over to the side of the road before alerting authorities.