Ford’s latest innovation at #CES2018: cars that talk to cities

Ford wants to be your delivery guy.


Forget couriers and stressed-out drivers making a few bucks an hour, worried about getting mugged or arriving on time.

Ford and Postmates are working together to create the first fleet of self-driving vehicles that will double as a delivery service.

Plenty of details still have to be worked out, but it’s an exciting and forward-thinking partnership.

Word at CES is that the tests will begin in March and random customers will be selected as trial runs for the service, with only those who use the Postmates app in the running to be chosen. A real live person will be in the car at the time to ensure things go well and the delivery is picked up by the right customer.

Ford also divulged a few more details about its interest in learning more about how cities operate, announcing another partnership, with Qualcomm, to develop technologies that will allow vehicles to communicate with other objects in a municipal setting, including traffic lights.

This all builds on Ford’s “City of Tomorrow” vision, introduced at CES 2017, a concept Andrew Hawkins of The Verge calls “a glossy, utopian vision of urban mobility that largely ignores the shabby condition of most of our major cities.”

The automaker said it’s working with Qualcomm to install what it’s calling “vehicle to everything” cellular tech that will be installed in all Ford models by 2019.

Hawkins writes that Ford isn’t so much interested in self-driving vehicles as how to use those devices as tools to make more money.

“Our new platform will make it easy to connect to and work with our partners, who can benefit by accessing our fleet of self-driving vehicles to serve their customers,” says Jim Farley, executive vice president and president for global markets for Ford. “Lyft, for example, is already testing the platform, which includes specific communications protocols that will be used to request and dispatch autonomous vehicles from our fleet for times and locations with surging customer demand, or to areas that are often underserved.”

If this is suggesting better delivery options to places where people are afraid to leave their own homes, I guess that’s an overall win, right?

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