Ford and Postmates team up to explore self-driving technologies

Ford and Postmates team up to explore self-driving technologies

The Ford Motor Company and on-demand delivery specialist Postmates have teamed up to “to explore the sustainable application of self-driving technologies within local economies”.

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.

“Specifically, the pilot will also evaluate how to reach new customer bases in less accessible areas — with the potential to alter the landscape of how commerce moves in the towns we call home.”

However, Postmates did point out that it is not looking to eradicate the human factor from its delivery equation: “While we’re excited to research the potential of self-driving technology, it’s important to note that our walkers, drivers, and bicyclists make up the largest on-demand delivery fleet in the country — and they will always be core to our platform. Our first commitment is to always prioritize what benefit can be realized by our customers, our fleet of Postmates and our merchant partners.”

Postmates signed off its blog with the upbeat message: “As self-driving vehicle technology begins to impact communities and urban transportation, we’re excited to work with Ford to see how this breakthrough technology can be applied as a force for good in local economies.”

Also this week, Toyota announced that it was working with a number of companies – including Pizza Hut – to develop p0tential applications for its self-driving vehicles, which could include pizza delivery.

Founded out of San Francisco in 2011, Postmates currently supplies in many major cities across the US and Canada, making around 2.5m deliveries each month. The company aims to deliver a wide range of items, but food delivery from restaurants is the main activity.

In November 2017, the company made its “first international launch” (i.e. outside the US and Canada) in Mexico City. Also in November, Postmates launched the PostMates Fresh grocery delivery service, which puts the company in more direct competition with Amazon and Instacart. Postmates allowed its users to order items from grocery stores in the past. However, Postmates Fresh was the company’s first official foray into grocery store partnerships.

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