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Ford has developed a delivery van concept that uses drones to deliver over the last 15 m, or from the kerb to the door.

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Team CV

To cut down on traffic congestion, and the resulting loss in productivity in an urban environment, Ford has come up with a concept that combines delivery vans and drones to develop a vision of the future for last mile deliveries. Vans, for more than half a century, have played a key role in deliveries. Drones, at the other end, are a modern phenomenon. The two could however work hand-in-hand to improve mobility in urban areas. Ford’s concept as part of the company’s vision for the ‘City of Tomorrow’ hopes to achieve exactly that. The Autolivery concept, developed by a team of Ford employees for the company’s Last Mile Delivery Challenge, envisages electric self-driving vans used together with drones to pick up and drop off goods and packages in urban areas. The concept was revealed through virtual reality headsets at the recently held Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest gathering for the mobile industry in Barcelona, as part of Ford’s vision of the ‘City of Tomorrow’. The concept showed dinner party preparations, with a missing ingredient quickly ordered and delivered in time to add to the recipe.

According to Ken Washington, Vice President, Research and Advanced Engineering, Ford Motor Company, the concept reflects upon a culture of disruption and innovation. The two elements were designed to arrive at solutions that put people ahead. Their time is saved, and they can find the cities better to live in. Also, it would make it easier to navigate. The Autolivery idea, one of the many submitted by Ford employees to tackle the last mile challenge, paid particular attention to the last 15 meters of delivery distance. It is this distance that is widely considered to be the most challenging when it comes to goods delivery. In their effort to automate the process over this distance, it is turning out to be the most challenging. Many companies continue to work on how to solve the complexity of delivering packages over the last 15 metres, or from the kerb to the door. The pressure to solve this challenge is expected to increase globally in coming years with a rise in local deliveries due to rising online sales.

Stating that the scene the concept depicts is not possible yet, Washingtion said, “Autolivery suggests the direction in which mobility research is heading, and how it could enrich the lives of people in a more sustainable way.” Shanghai-based Ford designers Euishik Bang, James Kuo and Chelsia Lau designed the Autolivery concept. According to Bang, it is all about making life in the city easier. The possibility of harnessing autonomous and electric vehicle technology with drones, to quickly and easily send and deliver parcels, could indeed help life become easier to everyone, he mentioned.

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