Ford tests autonomous on-demand delivery with Postmates

Ford is teaming up with startup Postmates to pilot test autonomous on-demand delivery in Miami and Miami Beach, Fla. The pilot program includes 70 businesses like Coyo Taco

Ford is also testing vehicle designs with multiple lockers in order to be able to serve more than one customer per delivery route. Since Postmates handles anything from food to hardware, the lockers are a variety of sizes.

The goal is to see how businesses and consumers interact with self-driving delivery cars. On the employee end, they get an access code to place the item inside. On the customer side, they’ll receive a text message with an access code when the order is ready to be picked up.

“Ultimately, we’re trying to make interaction with self-driving vehicles as easy as possible,” Ford wrote in a blog post. “Through our collaboration with Postmates, we’re testing different methods for efficient deliveries to help local businesses expand their reach and provide a seamless experience to customers.”

This is similar to Ford’s previous partnership with Dominos in Ann Arbor, Mich. and Miami, Fla. What’s different about this pilot, however, is the vehicle design that features multiple lockers, and both a touchscreen and audio for instructions. Each locker also has two cup holders to ensure seamless delivery of beverages.

Ford expects to officially deploy its purpose-built autonomous cars in 2021. In its pilot with Dominos, Ford found “customers enjoyed the voice instructions that played over speakers mounted on the outside of the vehicle to explain how to get their pizza out of the self-driving vehicle upon arrival at their house,” Ford EVP and President of Global Markets wrote in Medium post in December.