Ford’s very first fully-autonomous production vehicle will be a car, reserved for use in ride-share and ride-hail fleets, but the automaker is looking into providing self-driving hardware to other commercial segments, as well. According to Reuters, Ford VP of Autonomous Vehicles and Electrification Sherif Marakby said in an interview that the company is studying providing autonomous driving technology to larger commercial delivery vehicles.
Ford this week announced a collaboration with Domino’s Pizza to study the efficacy of autonomous pizza delivery, using self-driving Ford cars as delivery vehicles. And while Ford itself doesn’t make any Class-8 trucks like the tractor units commonly used for long-haul deliveries, the company’s extensive experience with light- and medium-duty trucks, and the partnerships it’s formed for the purposes of bringing self-driving technology to market (Velodyne LiDAR, Nirenberg Neuroscience, Argo AI) could place it in a strong position to design and implement systems in such vehicles.
If Ford were to participate in the heavy-duty commercial truck segment with a driverless control system, it would compete against the likes of Volvo, Uber subsidiary Otto, and possibly Tesla Motors in what could be one of the most certain early applications for autonomous vehicles.