Food delivery is big business and growing each day in both the grocery and restaurant sectors.
However, it is a fragile workforce made up of mostly independent contractors who complain about being overworked, underpaid and not appreciated.
So as we search for more convenience and more delivery, what does the future hold? Ford thinks it has figured it out with its current experiment with self-driving food delivery vans in Miami.
According to the Verge, Ford has been using Miami as a test bed for its self-driving vehicles since earlier this year. And now it has joined with Postmates to see how people ordering takeout food would interact with an autonomous delivery van.
Ford has retrofitted a fleet of its Transit vans with touchpad-accessible lockers, from which Postmates customers with the right access code can retrieve their food. The lockers are varying sizes to accommodate different types of deliveries. It's something we conceptualized in our 2016 Trends Forecast—not as pretty, but with the same functionality.
The pilot includes “over 70 businesses” participating, including restaurants and hardware stores. What? What about grocery?
The vans are manually driven by human drivers for now, because Ford is just using them to test different methods of food delivery. Eventually, the automaker says it will deploy a fully self-driving delivery service by 2021. Ford has also tested the concept of self-driving delivery vehicles in partnership with Domino’s Pizza in Ann Arbor, Mich.
So as I’ve said before, are we building a huge infrastructure for delivery that no one needs?