Bienvenidos a Miami. Where would you like to go? Self-driving cars may soon take you there as Ford sets to make the city its first test market for autonomous ride hailing. The service is expected to be fully running in 2021.
David Royse | LedeTree
A Ford executive said Tuesday that the company will make Miami and Miami Beach its first test market for the self-driving rides, saying it could help with the city’s congestion.
Ford’s vice president of autonomous vehicles and electrification, Sherif Marakby, wrote in a post on Medium Tuesday morning, that Ford will start by working on partnerships to allow the cars to be tested in deliveries by Domino’s and the delivery service Postmates.
“What we learn from this customer experience research will be applied to the design of our purpose-built self-driving vehicle that we plan to launch in 2021 to support the expansion of our service,” Marakby said.
“There’s clearly a need for innovation,” Marakby wrote. “Miami was recently listed as the 10th most congested city in the world, according to the Inrix Global Traffic Scorecard, and the fifth most congested city in the United States. Miami commuters spend an average of 64 hours in congestion per year during peak time periods — or nearly 10 percent of their total drive time.
“That’s just not right, yet it serves as a reminder that people always need to be at the center of our plan, so we’re setting out to solve for their pain points,” Marakby said.
The company credited Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Giménez with helping to spur the company to choose the area for its first foray into public rides in driverless taxis.
“He’s on the forefront of thinking about the future of transportation, leading a county that already offers a diverse set of transportation modes ranging from ride-hailing services and rail to buses and bike sharing,” Marakby said of Gimenez. “He understands the potential of self-driving vehicles and how they can fit in, interact with, and enhance all of those modes and more.”
The company’s cars are already on Miami roads, starting to do mapping, and will start deliveries soon.
Ford announced last September that it was partnering with ridesharing company Lyft, to work on autonomous ride-hailing.