Ford has auto hub plan for drones
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Ford has unveiled a vision of a future where automated vans and drones will rapidly ship goods across cities.
The motoring giant's Autolivery concept would see self-driving cars ship goods across urban areas and use drones to make the last leg of the journey.
The plans, unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, could help to ease congestion on busy roads and help speed up deliveries.
The Autolivery project is the brainchild of a team of Ford employees, who have been envisaging ways to make the last stage of deliveries easier.
As part of the Last Mile Mobility Challenge, the designers particularly focused on the last 15m of goods delivery.
Known as the “kerb to door” problem, this is widely considered the most difficult part of the delivery process to automate.
The Ford team proposed the use of electric self-driving vans together with drones to pick up and drop off goods and packages once the van reaches the address.
Vehicles could get the packages toward their destination, drones could help reach places inaccessible by car, such as high up in a tower block, or where parking would be difficult, impractical, or unsafe.
The concept could quickly and efficiently transport everything from groceries to urgently needed medical supplies.
Visitors to the MWC show were able to test out a virtual reality experience to see how it could work for dinner-party preparations, with a missing ingredient quickly ordered and delivered in time to add to the recipe.
Autolivery was developed as part of Ford's “City of Tomorrow” scheme.
Photo / Supplied
This aims to overcome mobility challenges in urban environments, including gridlock and air pollution, to help people move around more easily today and in the future.
Roads could be converted into green space and parks, allowing for higher quality of life and healthier communities.
Ford 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.
Ford hopes its Autolivery service could improve the lives of consumers with smart connected homes, and help to pave the way to a more sustainable future.
Ken Washington is vice-president of research and advanced engineering at Ford.
He said of the MWC display: “Ford has at its heart a culture of disruption and innovation designed to come up with solutions that put people first, to save them time, money and aggravation, and also to make our cities easier to navigate and better to live in.”
Ford is not the only company working on solutions to solve this kerb-to-door issue.
The pressure to solve this challenge is expected to increase globally in coming years with GDP growth and a rise in local deliveries due to online sales.
Amazon and UPS are among those who have already tested delivery drones..