Ford’s Autonomous Vehicles Hitting Miami Beach Streets

Ford and Miami-Dade County are teaming up to test autonomous vehicles on the streets of Miami and Miami Beach.

In the tenth-most congested city in the world and the fifth-most congested city in the US, Ford is looking to test how self-driving cars can reduce commute times and improve the efficiency of delivery-based businesses.

The first part of Ford’s presence will involve pilot programs throughout the year that includes partners such as Domino’s and Postmates.

The knowledge gained from this customer experience research will be applied to the design of Ford’s purpose-built self-driving vehicle that the company plans to launch in 2021.

“We’ve spent years researching and developing self-driving technology, studying changing customer behaviors, serving some of the largest fleets in the country with help from our dealers, and working with governments big and small,” Sherif Marakby, Ford’s vice president of autonomous vehicles and electrification, wrote in a February 27 statement. “Now it’s time to pull it all together and head for the finish line.”

As part of the announcement, Ford also released a YouTube video with footage of its test vehicles already cruising the city’s sun-washed streets.

Marakby also noted Ford would continue to develop the self-driving technology powering its vehicles by expanding testing in partnership with Argo AI platform.

“A new fleet of Argo vehicles is already on the streets, mapping the roads and accumulating miles that will help us improve the way they move through cities,” Marakby explained. “The effort will grow throughout the year as we add vehicles and expand areas of testing.”

Ford’s announcement follows recent developments in other states, as legacy automakers, government agencies and tech startups grapple with the implications of self-driving vehicles.

States such as California and Arizona are already hosting advanced tests for self-driving vehicles, and Washington DC’s mayor is paving the way similar testing.

Earlier this month Massachusetts held a Statehouse briefing on autonomous vehicles to explore the concerns and benefits of introducing self-driving vehicles to the state’s roads.

In January, the state’s governor Charlie Baker signed Executive Order No. 579 establishing the commission on the Future of Transportation in the Commonwealth to advise the Baker-Polito Administration on future transportation needs and challenges.

Meanwhile in Indiana, a Senate committee recently took testimony on legislation to regulate autonomous vehicles.

The bill proposes a series of regulations guided by oversight panels compromised of state departments of insurance and transportation leaders, and would also bar local governments from banning self-driving vehicles.

bill currently moving through the Utah legislature would legalize self-driving cars across the state and set up licensing, registration and insurance rules for them.

On a national level, Embark Technology, a startup developing self-driving trucks, announced this month it had completed a coast-to-coast, 2,400-mile journey from Los Angeles to Jacksonville, Fla. test drive with a semi-autonomous truck.

Embark started delivering refrigerators along a 650-mile stretch of Interstate 10 from El Paso, Texas, to Ontario, Calif., in October 2017.

— Nathan Eddy is a filmmaker and freelance journalist based in Berlin. Follow him on Twitter @dropdeaded209_LR.

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