Ford’s long-running Miami self-driving car tests might just prove vital during the pandemic. The automaker, Argo AI and The Education Fund are running an eight-week pilot program that uses autonomous Fusion Hybrid cars to deliver fresh produce to Miami-Dade County students learning at home. Education Fund members load fruits and vegetables into the test vehicles, which drop them off at the homes of about 50 families in a bid to promote healthier eating.
It’s not strictly a driverless test. Two Argo AI specialists sit in each car to monitor the test, take over if necessary and make the final (contactless) delivery. Still, it helps test the self-driving AI in a mix of real-world situations ranging from apartment complexes to driveways, including places without any parking.
You can expect “similar” pilots in 2021 based on the success of the Miami-area service, Ford said.
Even so, it’s a significant milestone. This is the first time Ford has used Argo’s self-driving technology as part of a public-facing partnership. In addition to helping the community, it helps Ford understand how to serve customers and run an efficient business. Ideally, the company will launch “trusted” autonomous commercial deliveries that eliminate any glaring mistakes.