‘Autolivery’ would add drones to white vans

⦁ Ford employees develop innovative mobility ideas
⦁ ‘City of Tomorrow’ to overcome mobility challenges
⦁ Fully autonomous vehicle for commercial applications

AUTO DELIVERIES: Image: Ford / Newspress
AUTO DELIVERIES: All-electric vans will collect the delivery and, if necessary, use a drone for the final 50m. Image: Ford / Newspress

BARCELONA, Spain –  For more than half-a-century vans have played a key role in deliveries but soon they could be working with drones to improve mobility in urban areas.

It’s an example of Ford’s vision for the “City of Tomorrow”.

Self-driving vans, the automakers believes, could quickly and efficiently transport everything from groceries to urgent medical supplies before drones cover the rest of the journey to remote destinations such as high in a tower block or where parking would be difficult, impractical or unsafe.

AUTO DELIVERIES: Image: Ford / Newspress
AUTO DELIVERIES: A trolley, however, always comes in useful. Image: Ford / Newspress

Fords “Autolivery” concept, developed by a team of the automaker’s employees for the company’s Last Mile Mobility Challenge, imagines electric autonomous vans and drones to collect and deliver packages in crowded cities.

The concept is being experienced through virtual reality headsets at Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest gathering for the mobile industry, in Barcelona, as part of Ford’s vision of the “City of Tomorrow”.

90 HOURS STUCK IN TRAFFIC

The experience showed a missing ingredient quickly ordered and delivered in time for a dinner party.

New (2016) data has shown that people in Europe’s cities spend as much as 90 hours a year stuck or moving slowly in traffic congestion. Autolivery, Ford believes, could improve people’s lives with connected homes.

Ken Washington, research and advanced engineering vice-president at Ford, told The Corner in a media release: “We have a culture of  innovation intended to find solutions to save people time, money and aggravation… to make our cities easier to navigate and better to live in.”

Autolivery, Ford says, is but one of many idea submitted by Ford employees to tackle “the last-mile challenge” – with particular attention for “the last 15 metres” in goods delivery – the bit from kerb to door.

READ MORE Ford features on Carman’s Corner

Pressure to solve this challenge, Ford believes, will increase globally in coming years and more local deliveries of online purchases. Washington added: “The scene shown today is not yet possible but Autolivery suggests how our ongoing mobility research could enrich our lives in a more sustainable ‘City of Tomorrow’.”

The company regularly invites employees, entrepreneurs and start‑ups to develop innovations through hackathons and challenges. Autolivery was developed by Shanghai-based Ford designers Euishik Bang, James Kuo and Chelsia Lau.

WATCH HOW the auto ordering and delivery is done

Ford hopes to have an autonomous vehicle for commercial application in mobility services such as ride-sharing, ride-hailing or package delivery fleets in 2021.  It also expects continued growth in electric vehicles to the point where they outnumber petrol within 15 years.

Shared modes of transportation would continue to gain popularity and connected communications between vehicles and infrastructure would grow.

Washington again: “We’re challenging ourselves to understand how people live, work and move in urban areas to inform our research in mobility technologies and solutions.”

AUTO DELIVERIES: Image: Ford / Newspress
AUTO DELIVERIES: ‘Look Ma, no driver!’ Image: Ford / Newspress
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