After years of testing and development, Ford is bringing its autonomous driving technology to Florida.
As part of an effort to learn more about how people will interact with autonomous vehicles, Ford will be deploying a fleet of self-driving Fusions in Miami-Dade County. The first pilot program is already underway and it involves a partnership with Domino’s pizza. It will soon be followed by a second program that involves Postmates which specializes in the delivery of groceries and other goods.
Ford will be using the pilot programs to answer a handful of questions including how employees stock the vehicle and how customers interact with the car when they retrieve their delivery. Ford will also try to determine how far people are willing to walk to an autonomous vehicle to pick up their order.
Ford says they will use to information and apply it to the design of their purpose-built self-driving vehicle. The model is scheduled to be launched in 2021 and the company says it will support the expansion of autonomous delivery services.
In order to support its fleet of vehicles, Ford will open its first “autonomous vehicle operations terminal” in Miami. Ford says the terminal will act as their base of operations and be home to its fleet of autonomous vehicles. A number of employees will be on site to do routine maintenance, troubleshoot problems and clean the vehicles as well as their sensors.
Ford will also rely on their local dealership network as the company’s vice president of autonomous vehicles and electrification, Sherif Marakby, said “A healthy dealer network is critical for support, as dealers can help with repairs and conduct parts deliveries and other services.”
Marakby also noted Miami is in dire need of new mobility solutions as he pointed out the city was recently rated as the 10th most congested city in the world and the fifth most congested in the United States. Marakby added Miami commuters spend an average of 64 hours in congestion every year.