Ford Motor Company announced on Tuesday that it will be partnering with delivery service Postmates, Inc. Later this year, the automaker will be testing how to transport people, food, and packages using its self-driving cars in a U.S. city. Ford’s plans highlight how automakers, and those with roots in the tech industry, are trying to tap into different sectors and build businesses powered by self-driving technology.
“We’re testing the business model for goods delivery,” said Jim Farley, Ford Executive Vice President and President of Global Markets. Initially, Ford plans to use vehicles with human drivers to test how to run services that would eventually use automated vehicles. “We have a shared vision with Postmates to help people unlock the best of their cities. When you combine the power and reach of self-driving vehicles with the deep knowledge of the Postmates team, the scale and scope of the expertise we put into action grows exponentially.”
“Ford’s self-driving technology has the potential to not only make our delivery network faster and more efficient, but to ultimately connect more customers to more local businesses,” said Vivek Patel, Vice President of Business Operations at Postmates. “Expanding access to smaller local merchants is at the core of our business. We view self-driving vehicles as another potential tool that can even the playing field for these businesses, and ensure that geography alone does not equal destiny.”
Ford plans to expand the delivery service beyond Domino’s Pizza and San Francisco-based Postmates, Farley said. It views small businesses as a significant potential market, and a natural next step after decades of catering to commercial van and pickup buyers. If successful, this operation could help transform both self-driving experimentalists, delivery businesses, and multiple other sectors.
Ford has said it will launch its own self-driving vehicles by 2021.