Ford will begin testing its business model for autonomous vehicles in 2018

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Ford also outlined its vision for autonomous vehicles today, starting with a partnership announcement with Postmates.

Ford's VP of autonomous vehicles and electrification told Cheddar he hopes to learn exactly how self-driving cars can be used.

It's all part of Ford's work to expand beyond its traditional business of making cars into a future where the vehicle driving down the street is only one part of a larger ecosystem backed by high-tech services.

Ford is working with partners - like Domino's Pizza, Lyft, and Postmates - to see how they can put the auto maker's fleet of self-driving cars to use.

Through this study, Ford plans to get a better understanding of how customers will want to interact with delivery vehicles and what neighborhoods they'll feel safe walking out to the curb to retrieve a meal.

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As well as ride sharing applications, the auto maker is also eyeing goods delivery. Initially, of course, such vehicles will feature human oversight/drivers, but will later transition to full autonomy, ideally. Ford made an investment in Autonomic past year.

Also this week, Toyota announced that it was working with a number of companies - including Pizza Hut - to develop p0tential applications for its self-driving vehicles, which could include pizza delivery.

While autonomous vehicles can be purchased by individuals, recent deals with Uber, Lyft, and now Postmates indicate that investors see the technology's biggest potential in the wider commercial environment.

Ford also announced a cloud-based smart city platform, created to facilitate communication between various transportation methods and services operating within them, including individual vehicle data.

"This system is not exclusive to Ford or to personally owned vehicles - we're building the Transportation Mobility Cloud for everyone, for the entire transportation operating system, including other automakers".

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