The drones inside this van can carry packages up to 49 feet.

In the near future, autonomous vehicles and drones might replace human mail carriers’ jobs of delivering your packages. A group of Ford employees are now imagining how these innovative machines might look at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

The Blue Oval’s Last Mile Mobility Challenge was part of its City of Tomorrow initiative for improving the way people get around the urban areas of the future. This specific test asked employees to find a more efficient way for making deliveries from the curb to a person’s door. The Shanghai-based Ford designers Euishik Bang, James Kuo, and Chelsia Lau came up with this idea they called Autolivery for a boxy, autonomous van for most of the transport, and drones inside for carrying packages the final 49 feet. These folks also created a robotic riding platform called Carr-e for hauling people around, and an electric tricycle for getting around.

Ford Autonomous Delivery

Putting an autonomous delivery vehicle like this on the road isn’t too far from reality for Ford. The Blue Oval is working to have a model with SAE level 4 driverless capability, which means a human isn’t necessary, for ride hailing or logistics fleets by 2021.

Automating package delivery seems certain to become a reality in the coming years because so many companies are working on the tech. For example, shipping giant UPS recently demonstrated loading drones onto its iconic brown trucks, and the bots were able to carry 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) for up to 30 minutes. Amazon has also been working on drones for carrying goods up to 15 miles (24 km). Meanwhile, little driverless buggies should be carrying groceries around Washington D.C. soon.

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For longer distance hauling, Otto, which Uber owns, is already demonstrating the possibility of autonomous semi trucks. With $30,000 USD of sensors and other extra hardware, the big rig hauled 50,000 cans of Budweiser beer 120 miles (193 km). A human was on board in case anything went wrong.

Source: Ford

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