Ford’s Autonomous Escape Goes to WalMart

Discussion in 'In the News' started by xcel, Nov 24, 2018.

  1. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    [​IMG] Ford’s $4 billion dollar autonomous gamble is in full swing.

    Wayne Gerdes – CleanMPG – November 20, 2018


    Ford says they will have a fully autonomous Level4 vehicle in commercial operation by 2021. To make this possible, Ford has invested heavily – to the tune of $4 billion USD – in four different technology companies.

    The effort to build fully autonomous vehicles by 2021 is a gamble through the brands all-new Ford Smart Mobility group.

    According to Ford, their plan is to lead in autonomy, connectivity, mobility, customer experience and analytics. The vehicle will operate without a steering wheel, gas pedal or brake pedal within geo-fenced areas as part of a ride sharing or ride hailing experience. The SAE Level 4 capable-vehicle, or one of High Level3 Automation that can complete all aspects of driving without a human driver to intervene.

    SAE Autonomous Vehicle Descriptions

    The SAE International has now classified autonomous driving into six levels of automation ratings and is now used by the U.S. Department of Transportation to classify a vehicle’s automation capabilities.

    Level 0: Fully manual vehicle and accounts for the vast majority of vehicles on the road today, with all aspects of driving being fully human and manually controlled.

    Level 1: The lowest level of automation. Examples include steering, speed, or braking control, but never more than one of these.

    Level 2: Automated steering and acceleration control. The driver always remains in complete control of the vehicle . Examples include helping vehicles to stay in lanes and self-parking features.

    Level 3: Able to detect the driving and roadway environment around them. With this more advanced technology, level 3 vehicles can make decisions such as overtaking slower moving vehicles. Human override is required when the machine is unable to execute the task at hand or the system fails. This is where higher end prototypes like Tesla’s Auto Pilot are today.

    Level 4: No human interaction required as the vehicles can intervene by themselves if something goes awry or there is an autonomous system failure. The cars are left completely to their own devices without any human intervention in the vast majority of situations.

    Level 5: Human driving is eliminated. Level 5 vehicles have a much more advanced environment detection system.

    According to the SAE, Level5 autonomy are the only class of automated vehicles that does not featuring steering wheels, gas and brake pedals, turn signals, or wiper and CC stalks,

    Ford believes that by mass producing a Level 4 capable vehicle, they will have achieved the highest level of automation by any automotive maker to date.

    The Walmart – Postmates Connection

    Ford’s first shot into the autonomous self-driving vehicle market is to provide affordable access to transportation and goods delivery.

    Brian Wolf, Director, Business Development, Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC”
    Ford and Walmart are now in the process of or at least attempting to deliver goods with Ford Autonomous vehicles. Enabled by Postmates delivery, the Pilot program with self-driving vehicles can complement Walmart’s existing delivery offerings.

    Walmart believes that self-driving vehicles have an important role to play with little to no employee expense. And like any autonomous project, the research vehicles will gather data about consumer preferences and learn the best way to deliver the goods.

    Given the larger volume of a Superstore shopping order, Ford will be managing a number of vehicle configurations to accommodate perishable goods or making multiple deliveries on a single trip out and back. Think of Ford’s autonomous Fusion by Dominos Pizza for instance.

    Having already completed more than 1,000 deliveries as part of the initial phases of the self-driving business, Ford and Walmart will deploy more self-driving vehicles in a way that makes sense.

    Only time will tell…
  2. Carcus

    Carcus Well-Known Member

    "According to Ford, their plan is to lead in autonomy, connectivity, mobility, customer experience and analytics. The vehicle will operate without a steering wheel, gas pedal or brake pedal within geo-fenced areas...."

    When you build a fence -- it keeps things in, and it keeps things out -- that's the nature of a fence.

    -- I don't see level 4 or 5 happening without V2V (i.e. transponders) -- I think it will lead to legislation that won't allow you to drive your non-V2V equipped car inside the fence. Drive past the warning signs without the right equipment, you'll get a ticket in the mail -- or worse.

    -- dense urban would be better served with advanced/improved mass transit + a full network of traffic separated biking/walking paths.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2018
    08EscapeHybrid and Trollbait like this.
  3. Erdrick

    Erdrick Well-Known Member

    We see eye to eye on this.
    V2V be it modem or cellular (or both), are very necessary for redundancy in some cases and filling in sensor / vision gaps in others.
    We really need legislation to go through mandating V2X so that it can be smoothly and evenly deployed!
    xcel likes this.
  4. Carcus

    Carcus Well-Known Member

    We might be eye to eye, but I reckon we're looking in opposite directions.
    xcel likes this.
  5. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Here’s What It Takes to Build a Self-Driving Business — And Where Ford Stands Today

    Sherif Marakby, CEO, Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC


    When discussing self-driving cars, the question that most often comes up is about when they will take to the streets. While that is important, there’s so much required for wide-scale deployment beyond just having the self-driving vehicle itself.

    Aside from delivering safe and reliable technology, what does it take to operate a successful self-driving vehicle service, especially one that customers want to use and makes their lives better? And one that is a profitable business that also benefits the community?

    These aren’t questions we’re willing to put off until some later date. In fact, we’ve been thinking about them for a long time. We want our self-driving vehicles to solve real-world problems with levels of accessibility, affordability and convenience that aren’t possible now.

    Self-driving vehicles are simply an enabler for a new kind of business we’re building at Ford. We are already designing, testing and operating an ecosystem of services today that is required for our self-driving business in the future — building the capabilities that will make scaling our business and delivering sustainable revenue streams much easier in the future.

    We believe a successful self-driving services business is built around the principles of supply, operations, and demand. Seems fairly obvious, but the devil is in executing the details. For supply, we need access to vehicles and self-driving technology. Then there’s operations, which doesn’t get a lot of attention compared with the intriguing story of self-driving technology development, but it’s what will make the difference in a running a viable business. And of course, customers are the source of demand, so we need to identify where customers are that can be served by our business.

    These foundational elements are crucial for any viable self-driving service, and we’re tackling each one now, in unison, so we are ready to activate a commercial service with solid business fundamentals.

    Let’s take a look at what we’re doing in these key areas:


    The Vehicle — Simply put: We know a thing or two about making cars. As we explained before, our strength is optimizing self-driving vehicles to help meet the needs of people and businesses. This includes making sure they’re durable enough to handle tough urban environments, making use of hybrid-electric technology to maximize their use, and ensuring they are integrated for safety from the outset. Our advantage is that we can engineer and manufacture custom-designed and purpose-built vehicles. Self-driving services, whether ride-hailing or goods delivery, are all new, so we need to design for the future, versus just repurposing what’s on the road today.

    Self-Driving System  — Of course, a self-driving vehicle has to know how to drive. We’re working closely with our partners at Argo AI to develop the brains behind our self-driving vehicles. This relationship features deep integration across all areas, including hardware and software teams. The software team at Argo AI works directly with the chassis and powertrain teams at Ford to gain a thorough understanding of vehicle dynamics, to help improve controls and ensure the sensors have automotive grade durability and reliability.

    In addition to having an in-house mapping team that can scale properly as more vehicles are deployed, Argo is sharply focused on developing vehicles that seamlessly blend in with traffic and drive naturally based on the unique road user behavior in each city. Using advanced algorithms that make informed predictions about what they see in the environment, our self-driving vehicles will be able to quickly make the proper, subtle adjustments needed to provide people with a smooth ride that is comfortable and confidence-inspiring.


    Fleet Management — Managing all of these self-driving vehicles is going to be crucial once they are ready for prime time. We’ve been working with fleet owners and operators since the early days of our company, and this year we took that experience and launched Ford Commercial Solutions (FCS) to help other businesses manage their fleets by providing connected vehicle data, like fuel efficiency and other diagnostics, to improve operational effectiveness. FCS is also going to be critical in helping us manage our own fleets of self-driving vehicles.

    To prepare for the future, FCS is already conducting fleet management for us in Miami and has modeled scaled self-driving vehicle operations in detail. Today, the team is using its software and supporting fleet management for services such as Chariot and GoRide. They are measuring and helping reduce idling time and inefficient harsh accelerations, as well as testing applications that can enable better downtime management and support within the Ford dealer network. Fleet management tools developed for law enforcement are also helping departments improve their situational awareness and driver behaviors.

    Managing data and large fleets like these provides great insight that we will parlay into our self-driving fleet management operations. This includes a significant undertaking that involves choreographing all the necessary support jobs — such as routine maintenance, software updates, and parts procurement — into a comprehensive shop management system and network. Downtime is the enemy of a successful self-driving service. We want the fleet up and running to maximize the utilization of each vehicle, since this business is based on each mile driven, not every vehicle sold.

    Transportation-as-a-Service Platform — Deploying self-driving vehicles in an efficient way will be especially important if we want to ensure they are serving a broad cross-section of people, including populations whose mobility needs aren’t currently met.

    Fortunately, we know how to build operations that provide transportation as a service because we’re already doing it. Our Chariot ride sharing service is running in numerous cities, helping people fight congestion and get to work. Meanwhile, our GoRide ride-hailing business is serving major medical systems by helping the elderly, people with disabilities and those without easy access to transportation make it to their medical appointments on time.

    With both of these services, we’re already managing and operating large fleets while directly solving real mobility challenges. Utilizing the Transportation Mobility Cloud developed by Autonomic, both Chariot and GoRide are also making use of sophisticated dynamic routing and booking software to optimize routing and efficiency — and this is software we’ll be able to take advantage of across a number of mobility services as we continue to improve it, including for our fleet of self-driving vehicles.


    Moving People and Goods: The use of ride-hailing and goods delivery is growing due to the ease of smartphone apps and availability of internet connectivity. These are sectors where self-driving vehicles can help, so our demand strategy is to work with the leading companies that have built-in customer bases already utilizing these services.

    Many companies want additional support in order to grow, such as Domino’s, which has an opportunity to deliver more pizzas but often can’t secure enough drivers. A self-driving service could supplement its business during those peak order times when it may be short on staff. Meanwhile, companies like Walmart are expanding by offering delivery services, and self-driving vehicles can enhance their ability to reach more customers. Finally, our self-driving service platform could provide solutions to small and medium-size businesses that may want to offer delivery, or currently do, but actually face a financial drain due to the resources involved.

    As we’ve mentioned before, our self-driving vehicle service platform will be a far-reaching ecosystem that allows a variety of companies — from large to small — to tap into it to enhance their business. Our platform — fully supported by dynamic routing features and optimized dispatches — will be able to supply vehicles to support businesses during peak times, while any downtime in ride-hailing, for example, means vehicles would be free to support grocery orders or dry cleaning delivery.

    We are teaming up with other businesses now to learn what’s needed to properly support them when we launch our self-driving service in 2021. Already, collaborations with Domino’s, Postmates, and multiple local businesses in Miami-Dade County have yielded valuable insight into how customers will interact with self-driving vehicles making deliveries, as well as how vehicles may need to be modified to accommodate multiple drop-offs. This effort is only going to get bigger as we collaborate with others.

    Digital Services: As the need for driving is removed, there’s great opportunity to customize and personalize the ride-hailing experience inside the vehicle, especially with connected, digital services. Whether vehicles are used to haul a family, get employees to work, or take people out for a night on the town, there are a number of ways they can be modified to enhance the customer experience — and our goal is to give people the ability to spend their time doing the things they want.

    A father picking up his daughter from school, for example, could use a self-driving vehicle to do so on his way home from work. Instead of driving, he could use the time in the car to order groceries for dinner and play educational games with his daughter. Commutes, meanwhile, can become more enjoyable and productive. People could order an autonomous vehicle from an app, order coffee from a recommended location along the way, and then have their ride stop to pick up their drink on the way to work.

    Powered by the Transportation Mobility Cloud, our digital services will be able to provide a full experience inside the vehicle for riders — one that could even feature altered lighting and a customized atmosphere depending on people’s moods and preferences. We are beginning to explore collaborations across entertainment, audio, gaming, touring and commerce fields, so that we can build out an entire customer experience before, during and after their vehicle rides.

    In addition to the three critical elements of supply, demand and operations, there are a couple other aspects to running a successful business that we think give us an advantage:

    Cloud Services: Serving as the foundation connecting all of the capabilities required to run a self-driving service will be the Transportation Mobility Cloud that Autonomic has developed. With all these elements in operation, connectivity across the entire transportation system will be critical to operate effectively. For example, if a self-driving vehicle needs to be dispatched to a ride-hailing service, the fleet operators will need to know if it has enough range or fuel to complete the ride.

    As an open, cloud-based platform that can connect app developers with connected vehicles, the TMC is able to effectively facilitate all of this information flow, offering a feedback system between apps, vehicles, and the services they’re supporting. Importantly, the TMC has the capacity to bring together different data streams — from connected vehicles, buses, scooters and other connected infrastructure — and ensure the transportation ecosystem at large is working optimally.

    Right now, the TMC is already being used in a number of different Ford businesses, including GoRide and FCS, to optimize routing and gain telemetry feedback about fuel efficiency, vehicle health and driver behavior. In the future, with self-driving vehicles that are fully integrated, the TMC could also make it easy for developers to create apps allowing people to adjust entertainment and climate settings in their vehicle, process payments, and access location-based services.

    City Relationships: No matter how much planning goes into creating a self-driving business, the fact remains that you won’t be able to simply copy and paste it from one city to another. Every city is different and constantly changing. That’s why we created the City Solutions team, which works directly with cities to understand what they need to help residents move more freely.

    In Miami-Dade County and Washington, D.C., this team was critical to helping us understand how officials and communities want to see self-driving vehicles deployed and what issues they want addressed. Through programs like our City of Tomorrow Challenge, the City Solutions team also collaborates directly with cities to engage the community and identify their transportation concerns. Moving forward, they’ll help us deploy these vehicles in a way that’s safe and makes sense for each city we launch in.

    Ford has deep experience building durable vehicles that serve large commercial fleets in heavy-duty, high-mileage operations; the kinds of vehicles you’ll want to outfit a self-driving vehicle business. The self-driving future requires that and more. So we are pulling together all the building blocks: our expertise as a global vehicle manufacturer, Argo AI’s work to develop state-of-the-art self-driving technology, our quickly advancing fleet management capabilities, routing systems and cloud services, and the partner networks needed to successfully run an autonomous business. When self-driving vehicles are ready for wide-scale deployment, you can bet that we will be, too.
  6. Trollbait

    Trollbait Well-Known Member

    Or converted to walking cities with only emergency and service vehicles allowed amoung the bikes, scooters, and Segways.
    xcel likes this.
  7. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    HI Trollbait:

    I am seeing about a death a month on the Bird and Uber inner city scooters so that is not the answer either?

  8. Trollbait

    Trollbait Well-Known Member

    One of the problems with those grab and rent scooters is that the user doesn't get a helmet.
    For a walking city, low speed electric scooters and such should be allowed, but require the same safety equipment as a bicycle, at least.
    xcel likes this.

Share This Page