Ford’s self-driving car is delivering pizzas on the streets of Miami.
Most car manufacturers think that self-driving cars are definitely the future. Everyone has invested in autonomous driving functionality to some degree, with a few companies going all the way into driverless cars. Ford is now joining those ranks with their very own self-driving car.
In partnership with Domino’s Pizza and Postmates, Ford is running a pilot program in Miami to see how well a self-driving car can perform, both on the roads and with customers. In an extensive article from Ford’s Vice President of Autonomous Vehicles and Electrification Sherif Marakby, Ford’s process for autonomy is outlined in detail.
First, Ford partners with Argo AI to outfit a Fusion with extensive mapping and data collection technology. That car will travel every road Miami has to learn traffic patterns, speed limits, average driving speed, and more. It makes a roadmap that all future self-driving cars can follow and hopefully avoid driving into the ocean—a problem that Miami has with being a coastal city.
Next, Ford gives self-driving Fusions to Domino’s and Postmates to see if they can do the job of delivering things. For Domino's, that’s delivering pizzas. For Postmates, that’s delivering parcels. In either case, the operation is the same: a storage compartment in the car is locked with a keypad, and the unlock code is provided to the customer. Then, when the car shows up, the customer is notified via their cell phone to come outside and get their pizza or package. Then the self-driving Fusion drives off into the Floridian sunset, a job well done.
Miami is particularly interested in the whole self-driving car thing since it’s one of the most congested cities in the world. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos A. Giménez gave his full approval to the program to hopefully bring traffic back down to reasonable levels in the near future.
That said, recent studies of Uber and Lyft have shown that ride-hailing services actually increase congestion rather than decrease it. There’s no reason to suspect that putting more cars on the road, whether they’re self-driving or not, is going to somehow decrease traffic congestion.