Two autonomous Ford in Miami

Two autonomous Ford in Miami

                            
                    Ford launches a fleet of autonomous cars to storm the colorful but congested streets of Miami. On the menu, two types of vehicles, one dedicated to research and the other to the delivery of objects and food.

                
            
                            

(Ford photo credits)

Famous South Florida city, Miami is known for its Art Deco hotels, its many wealthy retirees, tourists, beaches, but also its traffic jams. Indeed, Miami ranks tenth among the most congested cities in the world and fifth at the national level (according to the Inrix ranking). Every year, motorists spend an average of 64 hours in the Miami traffic jams, or 10% of their driving time. Despite these obstacles, this is the place chosen by Ford to experiment with its autonomous vehicles, unlike Uber which declined the invitation of local authorities. It is for the American manufacturer to understand how to operate properly a robotic fleet in difficult traffic conditions. As our Wired colleagues in the United States put it, "the goal here is not to get you from point A to point B, but rather to get your business from point A to yours without a hitch."

(Ford photo credits)

There will indeed be two experiments conducted simultaneously. The first concerns a fleet of white and blue cars bearing the logos of Ford and Argo AI, the start-up specializing in artificial intelligence and robotics bought for a billion dollars. The vehicles will not go unnoticed, including a ramp of cameras placed on their roof, surmounted by a LIDAR, and their number plates with the mention "investigation" ("search"). These cars will be used to map the streets of Miami. There will obviously be a driver behind the wheel ready to take the hand in case of problems.

Pizza deliveries at home, the ultimate test
The second experiment concerns delivery with a single car recognizable by its white livery with black markings. In partnership with Domino's (a famous pizza delivery chain) and Postmates, an on-demand delivery company, Ford plans to study how people behave in the face of this new type of delivery. With Domino's – the partnership with Postmates will only begin in March – everything will start with the employees. How will they know when to load pizzas in the autonomous vehicle? Where to place them in the trunk? Will the client be ready to leave the house and walk to the end of the sidewalk? How often does the car have to return to its service center to make adjustments or refuel? A driver hidden by tinted windows will be present to observe and record the behavior of people.

(Ford photo credits)

All this collected data will be downloaded and analyzed in a maintenance center built for the occasion by Ford outside the city center. This is a first for a robot car actor. In addition to the usual services (maintenance, cleaning, tire pressure …) that can be found in a garage, this center will also house engineers who will clean and recalibrate all the sensors. More than ever, Ford is launched in a race against time to catch up on the competition and launch its autonomous cars from 2021. Indeed, Waymo (Alphabet) is preparing to launch a taxi service without driver in Phoenix, city in which already operates Uber, as well as in Pittsburgh. Cruise (GM) is preparing to do the same in the city of San Francisco, while Lyft has partnered with NuTonomy (now owned by Aptiv, ex-Delphi) to launch an experiment in Boston.
            
                    

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