SOUTHWEST DETROIT – Self-driving cars could be a game-changer in the effort to bring fresh food to people who don’t always have access to it.
Ford Motor Company has launched a six-month long pilot program that’s using a self-driving shuttle to deliver about 10,000 pounds of food to seniors at Rio Vista Detroit Co-op Apartments.
“I just saw this automobile that had no driver and I, of course was just like anyone, I said ‘where in the world is the driver?’” Sahara Russell said.
Russell lives at Rio Vista. Once Russell realized his community would be getting food by the autonomous shuttle he was just delighted.
“We know that we are especially blessed to have Ford in the area and selecting us as someone to give to,” Russell said.
More than 20 Rio Vista residents were already getting food deliveries from Ford Fund and Gleaners Community Food Bank.
“There are more than several that use walkers and are under canes or in some cases, they cannot get out of their apartment,” Russell said.
This pilot program will actually double the amount of deliveries.
“We wanted to engage them with an actual autonomous vehicle delivery of groceries to understand what the customer experience would be like as well as testing new technology,” said Helen Kourous, autonomous vehicle engineer.
The shuttle is fully autonomous, but always has a safety driver to jump in at any time.
“We get really excited about the technology, but we need to remember that this is really about putting people at the center and understanding mobility issues and where can this technology help people, not just for the technology sake,” said Kourous.
The artwork on the side of the shuttle was created by local 12th grader Brooke Snow to show the diversity of Southwest Detroit. Snow plans to spend the $5,000 she won for her design on college.
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