Ford revs up self-driving vehicle and smart city plans

The Ford Motor Company logo

The Ford Motor Company logo

Ford made an investment in Autonomic previous year.

The automaker announced on Tuesday a partnership with Postmates, the delivery service darling of Silicon Valley, to test deliveries in its self-driving cars.

The companies also didn't elaborate on how Postmates customers would receive deliveries - there will likely be someone in the auto - but said users will follow instructions provided via the app. The autonomous-vehicle business model will harness Ford's new open-source platform, called Transportation Mobility Cloud, and aims to help Ford's business partners expand into underserved areas, as well as allow Ford to support small and midsize businesses.

Jim Farley, president of Global Markets, Ford Motor Company (L) talks with Jim Hackett, CEO of Ford during the Ford keynote at CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. January 9, 2018.

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EVP Jim Farley added that Ford is building an all-new vehicle just for autonomous use.

However, Postmates did point out that it is not looking to eradicate the human factor from its delivery equation: "While we're excited to research the potential of self-driving technology, it's important to note that our walkers, drivers, and bicyclists make up the largest on-demand delivery fleet in the country - and they will always be core to our platform".

Postmates signed off its blog with the upbeat message: "As self-driving vehicle technology begins to impact communities and urban transportation, we're excited to work with Ford to see how this breakthrough technology can be applied as a force for good in local economies".

Also at CES, Volkswagen (VLKAY) and Hyundai have announced plans to put self-driving technology in production cars by 2021.

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IBD'S TAKE: With thousands of publicly traded companies to choose from, how can you quickly find the best stocks to buy right now? Ford says its autonomous vehicles will start ferrying meals and groceries sometime this quarter, though there's no word yet on what city the service will debut in. However, Postmates Fresh was the company's first official foray into grocery store partnerships.

Ford is the latest vehicle company that wants to deliver your takeout in a self-driving auto.

Ford previously partnered with ride-hailing service Lyft and pizza giant Domino's on driverless systems.

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