According to our earlier article, GM seems to have some technical issues which make their self-driving service deployment date uncertain. However, since the company has announced this ride-sharing service to roll out during 2019, they are now under pressure to start showing results from their investments. A new partnership with the US food delivery company DoorDash could become a promising starting point. With this partnership, Cruise’s self-driving Chevy Bolt vehicles will offer customers in specific testing-areas of San Francisco the possibility of food delivery from their favourite restaurants or grocery stores. GM sees this testing as a way to start experimenting before getting permissions from the state to begin picking up passengers.
The vehicles are said to still hold safety drivers that are able to take over in the event of an emergency. So, the business will still be reliant on possible interactions with human drivers, but still one step ahead of rival company Ford, which is testing autonomous food delivery in partnership with Domino’s Pizza. Ford’s service depends on vehicles that are fully driven by humans who are instructed not to interact with customers – offering the feeling of “driverless” vehicles.
More and more companies and start-ups enter the race for self-driving public service deployment, but technical issues and regulations are continuously present, and the quest for true self-driving services seem to delay the alleged launch dates. Services like food delivery that do not include transportation of passengers sound like an effective way forward, where possible failures might not get the same consequences, at least in terms of in-vehicle passenger safety.
However, one can question the sustainability of transporting small batches of food (or other articles) around in cars. Unless these deliveries only replace the ones that otherwise would be made by human drivers, this might ultimately increase congestion. Moreover, DoorDash has already been testing services like self-driving robot delivery which might be a better solution than delivery by car. It would be interesting to see a future where both passengers and goods are being transported together by self-driving vehicles, perhaps switching priorities depending on the demand according to the time of day.
Written by Hampus Alfredsson, RISE Viktoria.