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Ford testing autonomous shuttle to deliver groceries to Detroit senior citizens

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Posted at 9:32 AM, Dec 14, 2021

(WXYZ) — Ford Motor Company and the Ford Fund are bringing a food delivery pilot service to Southwest Detroit with autonomous vehicles.

According to Ford, the six-month pilot project will be located within the Michigan Central impact area.

It's expected to provide 10,000 pounds of fresh food to the doorstops of senior citizens in the area who lack access to food because of mobility challenges.

The deliveries to the Rio Vista Detroit Co-op Apartments will see their grocery deliveries double in the coming weeks. More than 20 residents opted in to the service.

“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, 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.”

The Ford Fund and Gleaners Community Food Bank have distributed 2.4 million pounds fo food through the delivery program.

“CSI and Rio Vista Detroit Co-op are incredibly excited for this collaboration with Ford Motor Company,” said Eric Finkler, co-op liaison, Rio Vista Detroit. “For many seniors in this community, access to transportation is integral for retaining their independence, and the automated vehicle delivery program will help expand our members’ access to groceries, easing one barrier to independent living. Our hope is that with one less thing to worry about, our members can focus on family, coordinating doctor visits, handling day-to-day responsibilities, and spending time on things that they enjoy – like volunteering!”

In the program, there will be a low-speed, autonomous shuttle operated by the Ford future tech autonomous vehicle team and Quantum Signal AI. It will run on a fixed route between the Southwest Detroit Food Resource and Engagement Center at Rio Vista. There will be a safety driver inside the shuttle at all times.

“Creating mobility experiences centered around people and being inclusive is at the forefront of our thinking as we design future services,” said Robert Moser, global head of experience design, Ford Motor Company. “By collaborating with the community and showcasing this artwork throughout the duration of the pilot, it conveys how we are thinking about building services that make people’s lives better for all – not just one specific group.”