Ford to use autonomous vehicle shuttles to deliver fresh food to seniors in Detroit

Originally posted on Crains

Ford Motor Co.’s pilot program will use autonomous shuttles to deliver 10,000 pounds of food.

Ford Motor Co. is combining research and philanthropy with a pilot program that will use autonomous shuttles to deliver 10,000 pounds of fresh food to mobility-challenged older adults in Detroit.

The six-month program will double the amount of free food that will go to residents of Rio Vista Detroit Co-op Apartments senior living center in southwest Detroit and near Michigan Central Station, which Ford is renovating into the heart of a new innovation campus.

“We’re constantly thinking about how to expand our reach in communities for those who don’t have access to the most basic goods, like groceries or warm meals,” said Joe Provenzano, mobility director of the Ford Motor Company Fund. “Bringing Ford’s mobility expertise together with local collaborations allows us to create innovative solutions that make communities stronger and people’s lives better.”

More than 20 Rio Vista residents have already opted in to the complimentary program — Ford Resource and Engagement Center on the Go, launched earlier this year by Ford Fund and Gleaners Community Food Bank — as a reliable way to receive their groceries without needing to secure transportation.

The deliveries will be made with a fixed-route, low-speed shuttle operated by Ford’s autonomous vehicle team and subsidiary Quantum Signal AI. The shuttle will have a safety driver and be monitored remotely, with the ability to intervene if necessary.

The vehicle’s exterior design, representing the Detroit neighborhood, was created by Brooke Snow, a 12th-grade student at the Detroit School of Arts. Ford awarded Snow $5,000, which she plans to use toward college expenses.