Ford’s new self-driving van concept is like a rolling hive for delivery drones

Ford’s new “Autolivery” van concept has a terrible name, but is actually based on interesting core ideas. The van is yet another result of Ford’s fruitful “last mile mobility” internal employee challenge, and this one pairs an electric self-driving van with autonomous drones that nest within to help transport packages that last few feet to a customer’s door.

The van from Ford is very much a concept – less real than Mercedes’ physical concept and the UPS drone delivery vehicle that the company debuted this month. It’s currently only possible to check out how it works first-hand in VR, and even then only at MWC in Barcelona. But the idea is clearly making sense to a lot of different automakers and logistics providers, which is a sign that the idea has legs.

Even if it’s definitely interesting from a technical perspective, and makes sense in terms of cost and efficiency, there’s still a lot of regulatory ground to cover before something like this can exist. But self-driving trucks don’t worry about waiting in traffic, and self-navigating drones don’t just give up an attempted delivery because it’s close to the end of shift or there’s a construction vehicle blocking the road.

Ford’s also still set on putting fleets of self-driving vehicles on roads by 2021, so that’s half the job won. Nested drones allowed to fly free from within is only a matter of time after that.