As artificial intelligence technology continues to make its way into more aspects of society, it’s possible that the commercial trucking industry could be next. In fact, Ford is already working with potential partners to potentially deploy self-driving technology in commercial trucks, Reuters reports.
According to Ford’s Vice President of Autonomous Vehicles and Electrification, Sherif Marakby, the company is working with partners to develop “potential applications for Ford’s first self-driving vehicle in 2021, including ridesharing and delivery services.” In Marakby’s previous position at Uber, he led the development of self-driving cars as well, Reuters noted.
While Ford does not produce any Class 8 semi trucks for long-haul use, the company does have a shuttle service known as Chariot, which operates on an on-demand basis. It’s possible that these vehicles could eventually use self-driving technology, Reuters suggested. In addition, Ford manufactures light- and medium-duty F-series trucks as part of its fleet of vehicles.
Although Ford is working with multiple partners on its self-driving technology, the company plans to do much of its system integration work on an in-house basis, Marakby said. “We’re developing the technology and the (customer) interfaces to go to market directly with our partners. We’re open to other arrangements in the future,” he told Reuters.
This past June, Ford launched a robotics and AI research team under its Research and Advanced Engineering department. The new unit was expected to work with Argo AI, a startup that Ford invested in for a majority stake earlier in 2017. The group will be tasked with working on projects for drones, personal mobility platforms, automation and aerial robotics.
Earlier this week, news broke that Ford and Domino’s Pizza are planning to begin testing self-driving pizza delivery vehicles this fall in Michigan to get a better idea of how consumers really feel about using automated delivery services.