Your Next Postmates Delivery May Not Come With a Driver

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Ford and delivery service Postmates are announcing a pilot partnership to investigate how self-driving vehicles can start bringing in cash.

For example the company wants to identify "public transport dead zones" and fill the gaps by providing accessibility options with its own autonomous vehicles.

The companies also didn't elaborate on how Postmates customers would receive deliveries - there will be someone in the auto - but said users will follow instructions provided via the app. Self-driving cars could be a boon to this type of service, Sherif Marakby, Ford vice president of autonomous vehicles and electrification, said in a blog post announcing the partnership.

It's all part of Ford's work to expand beyond its traditional business of making cars into a future where the vehicle driving down the street is only one part of a larger ecosystem backed by high-tech services. The company says it operates in over 250 cities and makes about 2.5 deliveries per month.

Ford has a new partner for its autonomous vehicle program: Postmates.

Ford and Postmates are going to be working together on multiple pilot programs throughout the year. Its appeal is offering on-demand deliveries to customers who are short on time. The company is also interested in discovering how to design delivery-only vehicles.

These connected vehicles are the foundation for vehicle-to-everything (V2X) infrastructure, the company said, which would allow cars to communicate with each other as well as pedestrians, cyclists, and traffic lights.

On stage at the event, Ford executive director Don Butler demoed how an autonomous vehicle could realize if the driver is ill and pull over to the side of the road before alerting authorities.

Ford also announced a cloud-based smart city platform, created to facilitate communication between various transportation methods and services operating within them, including individual vehicle data.

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