A fleet of electric and autonomous vehicles and drones seamlessly respond to and deliver products ordered via online platforms, their routes and energy optimised through intelligent data. It isn’t a vision that will necessarily excite everyone, but as the technologies continue to develop and the cost saving potential is quantified, it is becoming increasingly likely as a core part of the future of retail and consumption. 

Captured in their ‘City of Tomorrow’ umbrella programme, Ford’s vision for ‘Autolivery’, where autonomous vehicles and drones combine to deliver everything from groceries to medical supplies directly to the doorstep is perhaps one of the most advanced and developed visions regarding the evolution of mobility and potential transport in a ‘smart city transition.’

Conceived by three Shanghai-based designers, Autolivery envisions autonomous delivery vans driving to a street address, where an automated drone could complete the final phase of the journey, delivering the packages, either to the doorstep, or even potentially a balcony.

Ford are pressing ahead with initiatives in this space, their City of Tomorrow programme has produced trials of electric vans and ride-sharing chariots in a number of cities, and they’ve also committed to producing a range of fully-autonomous vehicles, including ride-sharing and package delivery services, by 2021.

As automation in the transport and delivery sectors continues to move forward, questions around access to jobs are inevitably raised. The evolution of intelligent technologies represents a significant social and economic challenge, which will need to be addressed more broadly – there are numerous proponents of the Universal Basic Income concept for example. However, there’s little question that the rapid evolution of autonomous means of transport, and delivery, does represent the potential to significantly optimise a significant part of the value chain from an economic, energy and materials standpoint.

Source: Drones and autonomous vehicles: Can Ford’s delivery vision take flight?

Get another perspective on the future of self-driving vehicles by reading last weekend’s Circulate on Fridays, which includes a focus on IDEO’s latest work on the subject.

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