Ford unveiled a new concept at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona today: an electric self-driving delivery van that can launch a fleet of drones to pick up and drop off packages in hard-to-reach places. The automaker said the idea fits into its self-styled “City of Tomorrow,” a high concept vision of the future involving autonomous vehicles, ride-sharing, and a bevy of other transportation buzz words.
“Autolivery,” as the concept is called, is geared toward solving the last-mile challenge in delivery, specifically the last 15 meters between the delivery truck and the drop-off. The drones will come in handy when dealing with deliveries in dense, urban areas, where parking is impractical and people live in high-rise apartment buildings. And as more people shop online, the pressure to improve the efficiency of delivery services will grow.
Like most automakers, Ford has been trying to rebrand itself as a technology startup. But the car company is unique in its ability to brag the loudest, and flash the most cash, toward that goal.
Last month, Ford acquired a brand-new autonomous driving startup Argo AI for $1 billion. It has said it plans to manufacture a completely autonomous car, without steering wheel or pedals, by 2021. And its been dabbling in ride-sharing and bike-sharing, too. Sometimes, being America’s most recognizable car brand just isn’t enough.