Ford, Argo AI launching self-driving delivery services in Miami
Ford is launching self-driving delivery services in Miami to test its autonomous car technology, the company announced Tuesday.
Fords featuring self-driving technology are already delivering Domino's pizza in the city, and a program with the delivery service Postmates is expected to launch next month.
“After working out numerous muscles and developing different techniques to navigate a future of self-driving cars, we're heading onto the stage in Miami-Dade to see how our business performs,” Sherif Marakby, Ford's vice president for autonomous vehicles and electrification, wrote in a post on Medium .
Marakby wrote that Ford will work out how employees stock and send off a self-driving vehicle for deliveries, how customers will interact with the car to get their pizza or groceries, and what benefits self-driving could bring to people and cities.
A fleet of Argo AI cars, the Pittsburgh startup that landed a $1 billion investment from Ford to develop self-driving technology for the auto manufacturer, is in Miami and Miami Beach mapping streets and accumulating autonomous miles, Marakby wrote. Ford and Argo will build the companies' first autonomous vehicle operations terminal close to downtown Miami to manage and house the fleet and handle maintenance, cleaning and troubleshooting. Ford did not say how many people will work at the terminal.
“These vehicles will need to be maintained, repaired and cleaned, including prying sticky gum off the seats,” Marakby wrote. “Taking care of a vehicle — whether it drives itself or not — requires space and manpower.”
Ford invested heavily in Argo AI about a year ago. The $1 billion deal was for five years. Ford announced Tuesday it was expanding its partnership with Argo but did not disclose details.
Argo actively tests cars in Pittsburgh and established its headquarters in the Strip District.
Argo AI had 250 employees at the end of 2017. The company is led by CEO Bryan Salesky, a University of Pittsburgh graduate who worked at Carnegie Mellon University and for Google's self-driving car project. It also includes members of the team that launched Uber's self-driving car operations in Pittsburgh: Argo President Peter Rander; the company's vice president of robotics, Brett Browning; and CFO Daniel Beaven.
Ford expects to launch a self-driving vehicle in 2021. The company has its sights on delivery and ride-sharing applications for its autonomous program. Ford announced a partnership with Domino's in August and started testing driverless pizza delivery in Michigan last year. Ford's partnership with Postmates was announced in January at CES in Las Vegas.
Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.