At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Ford introduced a self-driving 'Autolivery' concept as a solution for the 'last mile' of autonomous deliveries that would work hand-in-hand with drones.
According to Ford, delivery vans have played a key role in delivering mail and goods for over half a century. Drones, on the other hand, are a modern phenomenon, but that does not mean they couldn't work hand in hand with autonomous delivery vehicles in order to improve mobility in urban areas, as imagined in Ford's many visionary projects, collectively known as the "City of Tomorrow" vision.
Ford's employees developed the concept of the future Autolivery for the company's Last Mile Mobility Challenge. The delivery vehicle as envisioned by the team is an electric self-driving van used together with drones to pick up and drop off goods and packages in urban areas, where cars aren't able to deliver packages right to the door.
Visitors of the Mobile World Congress were able to take a closer look at the concept and experience it through virtual reality headsets. The virtual experience showed dinner party preparations during which it was established that an ingredient was missing. They quickly ordered the ingredient that was then delivered in time to add to the recipe.
With the Autolivery concept, Shanghai-based Ford designers tackled the problem of the so-called last mile challenge, particularly the challenge of the "last 15 metres" in goods delivery, meaning delivery from kerb to recipient's door, which is believed to be the hardest to automate.
There's been quite a lot of pressure put on solving this challenge, since a rise in deliveries is expected due to increasing GDP and growing online sales.