Ford's move is the latest example of automakers looking to seize new business opportunities from the growth of autonomous vehicles.
The automaker announced on Tuesday a partnership with Postmates, the delivery service darling of Silicon Valley, to test deliveries in its self-driving cars.
In addition to new partner Postmates, Ford will be testing further with existing partners Lyft and Domino's, and already it's gleaned some insights from the latter two, including learning that many of its early users of the Domino's autonomous delivery service say "bye" to the driverless auto and enjoy interacting with its voice powered instructions interface. The autonomous-vehicle business model will harness Ford's new open-source platform, called Transportation Mobility Cloud, and aims to help Ford's business partners expand into underserved areas, as well as allow Ford to support small and midsize businesses. The news was unveiled at CES 2018 in Las Vegas. Instead, it focused on promoting a broad vision for improved cities and transportation systems, hinting that Ford may have wanted to benefit from the excitement around autonomous transportation despite not having made significant progress on a self-driving vehicle.
"We are working to verify that the technology underpinning future self-driving cars operates safely and reliably, to ensure that our self-driving vehicles are created to deliver trusted experiences and to prove out that the business model under which they are deployed is viable", he wrote in a blog post.
Postmates signed off its blog with the upbeat message: "As self-driving vehicle technology begins to impact communities and urban transportation, we're excited to work with Ford to see how this breakthrough technology can be applied as a force for good in local economies".
In August 2016, Ford announced plans to deliver a "high-volume, fully autonomous vehicle for ride sharing" by 2021. They're powered by a series of partnerships with companies like Postmates, Qualcomm, and Autonomic.
Corporate leadership at Ford imagines a future where cars are constantly making deliveries or pickups.