Last week, UPS revealed it is testing drone-launching delivery vans, and now, Ford is upping the game by unveiling its own electric self-driving delivery van that can launch a fleet of drones.

The company unveiled its new concept, called Autolivery, at MWC 2017 in Barcelona on Tuesday. The idea behind the delivery van - which, unlike the UPS van, is both electric and self-driving - is that it can drastically speed up distribution. The van is equipped with enough technology so that it is able to launch a fleet of drones capable of picking up and dropping off packages in hard-to-reach areas.

Autolivery aims to address the last-mile challenge in delivery, or rather, the last few metres between the delivery truck and the drop-off place. When UPS showed off its drone-launching van, it estimated that if it could shave a mile off of every driver’s route each day, it would cut about 66,000 miles per day overall, which equals a $50 million savings per year. Now, Ford is tackling that same issue.

In UPS' case, the van launches a drone from the top of a truck so it can autonomously deliver a package, and then the drone returns to the van, which has already moved to a different location. Ford, of course, is taking a more lux-livery approach. It's basically envisioning how future delivery services might work. Imagine you're making a recipe and need milk. You could order it through an app that works with Autolivery, and the van will come to you - even directly to the 30th floor of your building, because the drones will deliver to your balcony.

While UPS' van is best suited in rural areas, where there are large distances between houses, Ford is focusing on urban areas, where people live in high-rise buildings. Either way, both are trying to make delivery services more efficient in terms of cost and for the driver.

Autolivery is currently a concept within Ford's City of Tomorrow vision, but we'll keep you posted if it ever starts to test the vehicles.

Sections Ford Drones