Ford Targets Miami to Test Driverless Food Delivery
By Tim Higgins
Ford Motor Co. F +0.61% , which is focusing its entry into the driverless-car business on around-town deliveries, has picked Florida’s
Miami-Dade County as its first test-bed.
The Miami experiment, announced Tuesday, will involve two sets of vehicles: one of self-driving cars that will navigate actual traffic, and
the other consisting of human-driven cars and trucks that deliver food and other things.
The delivery vehicles will be dropping off for Domino’s Pizza Inc. and for Postmates, a food-delivery service. The Dearborn, Mich.-based
auto maker expects to add other partners later.
The delivery vehicles will be made to look like self-driving cars with graphics and fake sensors, and the drivers will have rules about
interacting with the customers with the aim of creating an experience of what it is like for a robot to make a delivery. Customers, for
example, will have to collect their pizzas from the cars.
“We want to understand what customers do to interact with an AV vehicle,” said Sherif Marakby, Ford’s vice president of autonomous
vehicles. Ford conducted a short test with Domino’s in Ann Arbor, Mich., last year.
After years of tests in California by various developers, more self-driving car tests are popping up in places such as Phoenix and
Ford is racing to catch up with Waymo and General Motors Co.
Waymo, which plans to begin a commercial robot taxi service in Phoenix this year, received permission to operate a transportation
network from the state of Arizona in January. The unit of Google-parent Alphabet Inc. also recently added Atlanta to the list of cities where it
is testing its self-driving vehicles.
Ford’s announcement also comes a day after an announcement that BMW AG and Toyota Motor Corp.’s corporate venture funds led a
$11.5 million fundraising round to help startup May Mobility expand demos and tests of self-driving shuttles in Tampa and suburban
The activity potentially places further pressure on Congress to clear a growing thicket of regulatory questions.
Legislation aimed at keeping states from passing competing laws regulating the new technology—which have been complicating the
self-driving movement—has stalled in the Senate.
On Monday, the California Department of Motor Vehicles received final approval to implement new rules that allow for the deployment of
driverless cars in the state, something, the office said, could happen as soon as April.
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