Ford Wants to Get in on Drone Deliveries, Too
Ford said it plans to have a fully autonomous vehicle ready for package delivery fleets in 2021.
UPS is already using drones on top of vans to assist deliveries in rural areas, and now Ford wants to do the same thing in busy cities.
The automaker at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week showed off an "Autolivery" concept that relies on electric self-driving vans and drones to peddle packages from point A to B. The idea, devised by a team of Ford employees in Shanghai, is that the vans transport goods part of the way, and the drones take over for the last leg of the journey.
The system could be used to transport everything from groceries to medical supplies, and allow for deliveries to places "inaccessible by car, such as high up in a tower block -- or where parking would be difficult, impractical or unsafe," Ford said. Say you're getting ready for a dinner party, for instance, and you realize you forgot to pick up the lemons. In the future, you may be able to order a bag of lemons and have them autolivered in just the nick of time.
Ford says the concept could not only improve people's lives, but "pave the way to a more sustainable future." In its news release, the automaker backed up those points with new data from traffic and navigation app Inrix indicating that drivers in Europe's cities spent up to 91 hours sitting in traffic during 2016.
"It's all about making life in the city easier," Ford designer Euishik Bang, who developed the concept alongside colleagues James Kuo and Chelsia Lau, said in a statement. "The possibility of harnessing autonomous and electric vehicle technology with drones to quickly and easily send and deliver parcels could help to make life better for everyone."
Ford said it plans to have a fully autonomous vehicle ready for commercial ride sharing, ride hailing and package delivery fleets in 2021. Looking forward, the company also expects electric vehicles to outnumber their gas-guzzling counterparts in the next 15 years, and for shared transportation to continue gaining popularity.