Sep 24, 2020
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Ford To Test Autonomous Deliveries In Miami In Search For Mobility Profits

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Ford and Argo AI have expanded their automated driving test program to Miami FORD When automakers started producing and selling modern plug-in electric vehicles over the past decade they did so with out a real plan for a way they were going to make a profit. The push for those vehicles was largely in line with government mandates


As a lot of the big carmakers scramble to deploy automated vehicles there isn t necessarily a lot more customer demand than there was for EVs. However this time most companies are seeking a viable business model before they go too far down this path. Ford has been particularly vocal about its efforts during this space and is establishing shop in Miami for its latest experiment


On the 2018 CES Ford announced the development of a transportation operating system for cities as well as a transportation as a service (TaaS) logistics platform to use with its partners starting with Lyft Dominos and Postmates. The first pilot test of the TaaS platform will occur in South Florida this spring


It s not the first time that Ford has dabbled during this space. In September and October of 2017 Ford and Dominos ran their first experiment with delivering food using an automatic vehicle. That test was focused mainly on the user experience to gauge how customers would interact with a delivery vehicle without the other human interaction


While the vehicle had all of its sensors enabled to collect data about how people moved around the vehicle it was actually being operated by a test driver. Only a single car was used from one Domino s store in Ann Arbor Mich. The first phase of the Miami test actually began last week replicating what was done in Ann Arbor with a single car operating from a single Domino s store


As with the Michigan test a human is driving the car but Dominos and Ford are hoping to profit more about customers accept this technology in an extremely different more urban environment than the north side of a Michigan college town. The Miami Dominos test will run for eight weeks


On the same time a team from Argo AI the Ford controlled startup that is developing the production automated driving software for the automaker has also moved into south Florida. Several of Argo s cars are currently driving around the city of Miami Miami Beach and the encircling suburbs to construct high-definition maps


Once that task is complete the Argo team will start their development testing. PROMOTED UNICEF USA BRANDVOICE | Paid Program
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No Putting A Person Of Color On Your Panel Doesn t Accomplish Diversity Ford vice-president of autonomous and electrified vehicles Sherif Marakby explained that Miami was chosen for 3 reasons


The dense complex urban environment is rated by the Inrix Global Traffic Scorecard because the fifth most congested city within the country. It also offers diversity starting from the town center to the beach area to the suburbs which will provide lots of opportunity for testing different conditions. Ford s test of delivering Dominos pizza via automated cars is heading to Miami FORD However there is a limit to those test conditions because Miami doesn t get the sorts of winters that Michigan or Pittsburgh achieve this it is a more beneficial year-round environment for early deployment of automated vehicles


Finally Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos A. Giménez is a big supporter of bringing new transportation solutions to the town and having support from local authorities will hopefully make it easier for Ford and its partners to get any approvals they might need for testing. While a single sensor equipped Fusion delivering pizzas will possibly not sound like much Marakby promises that that is just the start


Sooner or later in March Postmates will join the testing effort and eventually the various automated Fusions will be carrying Lyft riders. Ford and Argo AI have expanded their automated driving test program to Miami FORD Ford has also set up a service depot in Miami which will be the house for all of those test vehicles


When each vehicle returns from testing or data collection trips data will be downloaded and the vehicles will go through service procedures that are being developed. This includes cleaning and checking sensors as well as other maintenance operations. Ford will be working with its local dealer network to evaluate how operations may be integrated


In the long term if automated mobility services begin to take off and folk shift from vehicle ownership to mobility on demand the dealer infrastructure will need to adapt to servicing these fleets in preference to selling cars. Marakby declined to provide any additional details on Ford s upcoming automated vehicle to launch in 2021 except to reaffirm that it’s going to be specifically designed from the ground up for service operations


Which means it’s going to likely look a lot more like a Transit Connect than a Fusion. Ford hasn t been as public about its autonomous testing efforts as GM Waymo and others. While it has a permit to check in California it has largely kept its vehicles in states where it doesn t need to report any data like Michigan and Pennsylvania


The testing in Miami will be a primary for both Ford and the first major public road testing program by an automaker within the state of Florida. Voyage announced in January that it’d expand its test program from California to the Villages in central Florida sometime in 2018 and a few other closed area tests are also happening


Miami will give Ford an environment that in some respects is as challenging as the one that GM faces in San Francisco and shortly Manhattan but in addition quite different. Within the coming months we ll probably start hearing a lot more about how other companies are understanding the business model side of the automated vehicle puzzle


Tesla desires to let owners share their vehicles by itself in-house ride-hailing network taking a piece of every transaction. Waymo wants to feature trucking and other services to ride-hailing and GM will probably announce more options for what to do with its automated Chevrolet Bolts before commercial services start next year


It s a secure bet that within the early years of automated driving deployment each one of these services will still be losing money but everyone seems to be scrambling to have the option to change that as quickly as possible before the profits from selling cars dry up completely

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