Autonomous Car

Ford's (Nearly) Automated The Taco Truck With Help From Postmates

Your next delivery order could be delivered by an automated Transit Connect.

Anyone who's ever ordered food for delivery has probably encountered less-than-stellar service. The driver has trouble finding your address, the food arrives cold, there's mistakes in your order.... Well, Ford's out to fix that. The Blue Oval automaker has partnered with delivery service Postmates to trial a self-driving food delivery vehicle. So far it's only being deployed in the Miami area, but it serves as a pilot program that could reach other markets in the near future as well.

The program is built around a (nearly) autonomous Ford Transit Connect van that's been specially modified for the purpose. We say “nearly” autonomous, because the technology isn't quite there yet – so there's still a driver behind the wheel. But the rest of the system looks pretty well automated.

Customers place their order with any of 70 participating businesses – including local favorite Coyo Taco. The restaurant employee enters an access code and places the order inside a locker in the back of the vehicle, with cupholders to ensure the drinks don't spill. The vehicle delivers it to the customer, who gets a text message saying it's arrived, enters an access code, the locker door opens, and presto! The order's delivered. Beyond the utility of the service itself, Ford and Postmates are testing the service and how it interacts with customers to see how they'll implement it all in the future. So don't be surprised if, a few years down the line, your food's delivered in a fully autonomous Ford.

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