Looking into how people will interact with driverless food trucks...
Ford has teamed up with Postmates to test a self-driving food truck in Miami, in an attempt to better understand how people interact with unmanned delivery vehicles.
When we say unmanned, we mean vehicles that appear unmanned. Ford is already running a number of trials with autonomous cars, but this is aimed at better understanding how people actually deal with the car once it's arrived with their food.
Once food has been prepared, it's placed inside a locker on a specially-prepped Transit Connect van. There are cupholders in there, and the lockers themselves are different sizes at the moment, in an attempt to better understand what does or doesn't work in practice.
When it pulls up in front of the house to which food is being delivered, the receiver will be notified and given a code to enter on a touchscreen next to the lockers. With the code successfully keyed-in, the locker will open, and dinner time is officially underway.
At the moment, the program is just a trial, made up of 70 businesses in the Miami and Miami Beach area, but autonomous delivery vehicles aren't necessarily far away.
Ford wants to have a self-driving vehicle on the roads in 2021, while vehicles like the Nuro R1 are promising to make deliveries easier and cheaper for businesses like Amazon. Toyota has the e-Palette, and even Dominos has tossed the idea of self-driving pizza-delivery cars around.