While General Motors and other rivals are planning to launch their own commercial ride-sharing service using self-driving vehicles in the future, Ford is taking a different route. The American automaker plans to deploy self-driving vehicles in Miami as part of a pilot testing in collaboration with delivery partners.
As part of the test, Ford will initially team up with partners and operate the self-driving vehicles for various companies including Domino's Pizza and Lyft, according to Reuters. The Fusion sedans will be deployed in Miami, with vans and SUVs to follow once the roll-out begins in other cities. The goal of the program is to develop a business model for sharing revenue with partner companies who will be receiving fleet-management services from Ford.
In return, those partners will offer Ford's self-driving vehicle solution to their customers under their own brand. Sherif Marakby, the company's Vice President of Autonomous Vehicles and Electrification, explained Ford's intention to make money by use of the vehicle and the revenue generated by that vehicle for every mile it completes.
Among other firms, Ford plans to add startup Postmates, a goods delivery business, to its roster of partner companies next month.
On top of the revenue-sharing model, Ford is also looking to gain additional profit through e-commerce, advertising, and infotainment that will be embedded in the company's vehicle. The automaker's self-driving testing seems to be part of a broader goal to produce fully autonomous, self-driving cars by 2021 and sell those vehicles directly to customers instead of offering an Uber-like service.