Ford and Hermes have started a pilot project for parcel delivery with self-driving vans in London. As the vehicle manufacturer reports, the two-week practical test is part of a new research program by Ford on autonomous vehicles and their potential in commercial use. Hermes is the first company to take part in this pilot test.
“Invisible” driver on board
With a converted Ford Transit panel van, both partners want to understand how other road users behave towards a seemingly driverless van. However, a person continues to drive the commercial vehicle – the European legal situation currently does not allow anything else. The delivery vehicle is equipped with all the typical sensors of a fully autonomous car, emphasizes Ford. Nevertheless, the driver remains invisible to outsiders.
This “invisible” driver also behaves completely passively during the ongoing practical test. Couriers carry out the delivery on foot: You can request and stop the delivery vehicle using a smartphone app developed by Hermes. As soon as the van is parked securely, they unlock the door to the cargo space remotely. There, voice prompts and monitors guide you to the parcel compartment provided for you.
Ford is already testing self-driving technologies in several major US cities. By 2025, the company says it will have invested around seven billion US dollars in autonomous vehicles within ten years, five billion of which from 2021 onwards.