What's the delivery service about?
Major automaker Ford has announced that they are launching a free food delivery service using autonomous vehicles in South Detroit. The shuttles will be used to deliver fresh food to the community, and in the process to refine the autonomous vehicle technology.
Who is the delivery service for?
The pilot program is expected to bring 10,000 pounds of fresh food to the doorstep of mobility-impaired seniors who are in need. The new low-speed shuttle will run along a fixed route and will use specially modified vehicles for food. The pilot program is also part of a mobility innovation program being researched by Ford.
The shuttle’s exterior design reflects the diversity of Southern Detroit and was created by a local art student.
How is the prgram funded and where does the food come from?
This entire initiative is being funded by Ford’s philanthropic wing, the Ford Motor C. Fund which has the stated goal of strengthening communities and making people’s lives better. This food delivery programme, if successful, will certainly help to achieve their goal. Many parts of urban Detroit are food deserts – areas that do not have grocery stores. This leaves residents reliant on fast food, or expensive highly processed food available at convenience stores. The delivery of fresh produce to residents in need will be helpful. It allows seniors who have opted into the program to receive fresh food without having to arrange for paid delivery or use of a vehicle.
The source for much of the food will be the Gleaners. Gleaners also operate in Ontario and gather food that is top quality but ‘unfit’ for commercial sale due to abnormal size or shape or colour from farms and proved the produce to shelters, soup kitchens, food pantries, and in Ontario, they operate large dehydration operations which convert the fresh food into nutritional soup bases for delivery internationally to areas in a crisis like refugee camps.
Milk and canned goods are also part of the deliveries and are purchased by Ford or donated.
“The pilot will utilize a low-speed autonomous shuttle operated by the Ford future tech autonomous vehicle team and Quantum Signal AI, a wholly owned Ford subsidiary. It will run along a fixed route between the Southwest Detroit Ford Resource and Engagement Center, where bags will be loaded, taken to Rio Vista, where groceries will be unloaded and distributed to participating residents.
A safety driver will be inside the shuttle at all times, and be monitored by a remote operations team that can also intervene if needed. The pilot vehicle has been upfitted by Ford’s experience design team for efficient packing and transit of fresh food items and for easy loading and unloading.”
You can read all about the program on the Ford Motor Co. Fund website.
image courtesy of https://media.ford.com/content/fordmedia/fna/us/en/news/2021/12/14/ford-to-bring-10-000-pounds-of-fresh-food-to-southwest-detroit-r.html