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Ford's autonomous delivery experiments now include potentially vital services. The automaker is launching a six-month pilot project that will have self-driving shuttles bring fresh food to residents of a Detroit senior living center, the Rio Vista Detroit Co-Op Apartments, that might otherwise have challenges fetching groceries. The free-of-charge offering will have the "low-speed" vehicle drive a fixed route between a Ford facility and Rio Vista, with a safety driver and a remote team ready to take over if necessary.
Notably, the shuttle doesn't involve Ford's partner Argo — this is a distinct effort between Ford's in-house autonomy team and the company's Quantum Signal AI subsidiary. The two have modified the shuttle to help with packing and unloading food, but it's otherwise a stock machine (as far as autonomous shuttles go, at least).
There's certainly a degree of publicity grabbing involved — Ford is conducting a pilot that doubles as a goodwill campaign. This will help Ford study slower self-driving technology and remote control, though. It also hints at a future where driverless vehicles help seniors maintain their quality of life when travel is impractical.