Drones are already being used by many different companies to help them run their operations more efficiently—UPS uses drones with their vans, to help drivers find delivery recipients more easily. Ford also wants to get in on drone deliveries, and aims to incorporate drone-use in urban centres to help with their business.
At the Mobile World Congress, Ford revealed an “Autolivery” idea that incorporates the use of autonomous vans and drones to transport packages to delivery points. Shanghai Ford employees proposed the idea, suggesting that the drones and vans split the workload: vans go half of the journey with the packages, and the drones carry the packages for the rest of the way.
Deliveries can consist of anything from medical supplies to baby toys, and the drones can transport the packages to areas that would otherwise be inaccessible by a delivery van, whether due to architecture or parking limitations. This plan would be extremely beneficial, even in everyday situations: if you’re making a Thai curry, and forget to buy aubergine, you can just have the vegetables autolivered to your home.
Ford hopes that autolivery will help sustainability efforts, by decreasing the number of cars on the road. Using data obtained from Inrix, a traffic and navigation app, Ford showed that drivers in Europe can spend up to 91 hours in traffic, showing how autolivery can make people’s lives better and decrease emissions from vehicles as well.
James Kuo, Cheslia Lau, and Euishik Bang, the three Ford designers behind the autolivery concept, praised the concept and said it was about “the possibility of harnessing autonomous and electric vehicle technology with drones to quickly and easily send and deliver parcels […] to make life better for everyone.”
Autonomous Ford delivery vans should be on the roads by 2021, according to Ford’s reports. The company also expects to see electric vehicles rise in popularity, replacing traditional vehicles in the next decade.