Ford has chosen Miami as its development hub for future self-driving vehicle fleets.
The carmaker is developing an all-new, fully autonomous vehicles that could be used for robotaxi fleets or deliveries.
That vehicle will arrive in 2021.
The company will establish a logistics terminal in Miami and begin working with partners such as Domino's and Postmates.
Miami was chosen due to its combination of driving challenges and good weather.
Ford has big plans for full autonomous vehicles. By 2021, the carmaker intends to launch a car that can drive itself and deliver goods — and have no steering wheels or other controls.
That ambitious objective took a leap forward on Tuesday when the company announced that after considering several US cities in which to test new services and businesses and develop autonomous technology, it had settled in Miami as the location for its pilot program.
"We've spent years researching and developing self-driving technology, studying changing customer behaviors, serving some of the largest fleets in the country with help from our dealers, and working with governments big and
small," Sherif Marakby, the Ford vice-president overseeing autonomy and electrification, said in a Medium post.
"Now it's time to pull it all together head for the finish line!" he added. "So now, we're headed to Florida to test and prove out our business model. With the help of Miami-Dade County, we're taking our service directly to the streets of Miami and Miami Beach."
RELATED: Check out Ford automobiles through the years:
Ford automobiles through the years
Ford automobiles through the years
Henry Ford in his First Passenger Automobile, Quadricycle, First Built in 1896, USA, circa 1903. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
Henry Ford seated in his first Ford automobile on Grand Boulevard, Detroit in September of 1896.
ORIGINAL CAPTION READS: Three-quarter view of a 1908 Model T Ford. Undated photograph.
A well-dressed African-American couple stand by their 1909 Ford Touring car in Southern California. (Photo by Jonathan Kirn/Corbis via Getty Images)
The Ford factory, Manchester, c1911. Lines of Model Ts, off the production line. (Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
Ford Motor Company Advertisement Featuring the Big Four Automobiles, circa 1909. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
Sir Harry Lauder sits proudly in his 1914 Ford Model T 'sporty' touring car which sold for $550, complete with equipment.
Making the bodies for Model T Fords, 1915. Factory workers on the production line completing upholstery for the seats. A sack of stuffing lies on the floor. (Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
The family gather in and on the running board of their automobile. (Photo by Jonathan Kirn/Corbis via Getty Images)
(Original Caption) View of a Ford touring car with passengers, 1923.
Actors ZaSu Pitts and Ford Sterling pose for this still from the 1927 version of Casey at the Bat. Pitts played the role of Camille, and Sterling played the role of O'Dowd.
1928: American inventor and industrialist Henry Ford (1863 - 1947) and his son, automobile executive Edsel Ford (1893 - 1943), sit in 'The Fifteenth Millionth Ford'. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) 1929- Picture shows a Ford Town Car. Cloche hatted model is sitting on the running board.
Photo of an early Ford automobile. Ca. 1900s.
The Lincoln was, and still is, one of the luxury cars of the Ford Motor Company.
(Original Caption) 1928- Picture shows the 1928 Ford model A automobile.
G Kinsey-Morgan's Ford Model C Ten, winner of a silver award at the MCC Torquay Rally, July 1937. Ford 10 1172 cc. Vehicle Reg. No. CLJ617. Event Entry No: 84 Driver: Kinsey-Morgan, G. Award: Silver. Place: M.C.C. Torquay Rally. Date: 16/17.7.37. Artist Bill Brunell. (Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
Ford's 1955 Thunderbird features all steel convenience and safety with high performance. It has roll up windows, a telescopic steering column, and is available as either a hard top or a convertible.
Replacing the Boss 429 and Boss 302, the 1971 Boss 351 Mustang features a competition suspension package and a potent 351-cubic-inch Cleveland engine.
1978-Ford Motor Company's Country Squire Station Wagon.
Man inspects a new Ford Motors Company car that has just come off the final assembly line.
(Original Caption) 11/10/50-Dearborn, Michigan: The custom four-door Sedan, featuring Fordomatic drive, has new refinements in styling to emphasize distinctive body lines. The new models have a dual spinner radiator grille, long wraparound bumpers and new ornamentation.
LOS ANGELES,CA - CIRCA 1954: Actress Lori Nelson poses in her Ford Thunderbird car at home in Los Angeles,CA. (Photo by Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
circa 1955: A suburban family waving as they pull out of a driveway in a packed late 1950s model Ford Country Squire station wagon. (Photo by Lambert/Getty Images)
A 1955 Ford Consul Convertible MK 1. The first post-war cars from Dagenham were almost identical to pre-war models, but the 1951 'Five Star Car' Consul/Zephyr range was revolutionary. With American-styled unitary bodies scaled down for European markets, the cars featured new independent front suspension by Earle MacPherson. Convertibles, which accounted for less than 2% of production, were developed by Carbodies of Coventry in 1953. Both the Consul and 6 cylinder Zephyr were popular among fleet users and hire companies. Ford production in Britain, began in a converted tram factory in Manchester in 1911, transferring to the purpose-built Dagenham factory in 1931. (Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
View of a 1959 Ford Thunderbird motor car, its convertible roof in the down position, parked outside on a grassy field, 1959. (Photo by FPG/Getty Images)
DAYTONA BEACH, FL â February 1957: Driving this 1957 Ford for car owner Pete DePaolo, Marvin Panch finished fifth in the NASCAR Cup race on the Daytona Beach-Road Course. (Photo by ISC Images & Archives via Getty Images)
A 1958 Edsel convertible made by Ford, 1958. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)
View of a 1965 Ford Thunderbird motor car parked on a rotating floor in a showroom, 1963. (Photo by FPG/Getty Images)
On the beach, a group of young men and women lean or sit on a mid-60s Ford Mustang convertible (either a 1964, 1965, or 1966 model), which sports mid-1960s California plates (1963 - 1969), as they listen to a woman play an acoustic guitar, mid 1960s. There are a numebr of surfboards propped against the car. (Photo by Tom Kelley/Getty Images)
A young man washes the family Ford Anglia car on an Essex estate in the early nineteen sixties. Bending down to wring a leather dry into a bucket the young man cleans his father's beloved Anglia in the street outside the family house which interestingly, is otherwise empty of other cars. This is the new age of car ownership when newfound wealth meant families could afford to buy a vehicle and travel elsewhere after the war years of 1950s austerity. The Ford Anglia is a British car designed and manufactured by Ford in the United Kingdom. The Ford Anglia name was applied to four models of car between 1939 and 1967. 1,594,486 Anglias were produced. The picture was recorded on Kodachrome (Kodak) film in about 1961. (Photo by In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images)
30th May 1975: The car assembly line for vans at Ford. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)
Ronald and Nancy with their new Ford Ranger pick up, in their Californian ranch 'Rancho del Cielo'. (Photo by jean-Louis Atlan/Sygma via Getty Images)
CIRENCESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 30: Princess Diana At Cirencester Polo Club With Her Maroon Red Ford Escort Cabriolet Car (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
The Newly Designed 35Th 1999 Anniversary Edition Ford Mustang. (Photo By Getty Images)
2002 Ford Mustang Bullitt driving on country road, 2000. (Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
384022 08: FILE PHOTO: Ford''s new fuel-efficient hybrid electric (HEV) concept Escape SUV vehicle sits in a showroom January 4, 2001 in Los Angeles during its debut at the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show. The newest version of Ford Motor Co.''s popular Escape sport utility vehicle reportedly earned low marks in crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, April 23, 2001. (Photo by Ford/Newsmakers)
394154 02: (FILE PHOTO) A 2000 Ford Windstar minivan is seen in this undated photo. Ford announced September 6, 2001 that it had sent more than 750,000 recall letters to owners of 1999-2001 model Windstars after reports that the minivan's windshield wiper motor could potentially catch fire. Ford said that small holes in the system could allow water, salt and debris to clog the motor and ignite a fire. (Photo by Ford/Getty Images)
2005: Ford Freestyle SUV. (Photo by John B. Carnett/Bonnier Corporation via Getty Images)
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The Miami area was chosen, Marakby said, because it combines a dense urban environment with suburban spaces. Miami itself is the "the tenth most congested city in the world and the fifth most congested city in the United States," Markaby noted.
But the weather is also relatively predictable and, for the purposes of AV and EV testing, more benign than what one might find in Michigan or the Northeast. Companies diving into autonomy have favored environments in regulation- and rain-light Arizona, but as General Motors has learned with its Cruise self-driving unit and operations in San Francisco, a viable autonomous business will have to contend with urban density at some point.
"Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos A. Giménez is a champion of innovative technology and applying it to help improve life for residents of the county," Marakby wrote on Medium. "He's on the forefront of thinking about the future of transportation."
Ford is designing an all-new, fully autonomous vehicle that it will roll out in three years and that can be used, Marakby said on a conference call with reporters, to transport people in a robotaxi framework or deliver stuff. The company will rely on ArgoAI to shepherd the technology. Ford made a $1-billion investment in the startup last year.
The carmaker isn't waiting for that car to begin working on logistics and business models, however. In Miami, Ford will create a centralized self-driving hub.
"Situated close to downtown, it will be the base from which we'll develop our vehicle management processes and house our test fleet," Marakby wrote on Medium. "The vehicles will be washed and have their sensors cleaned here; routine maintenance will be conducted, including troubleshooting problems that arise and more."
The pizzas are coming
Ford will also expand its partnerships with Domino's and delivery service Postmates in Miami.
"What we learn from this customer experience research will be applied to the design of our purpose-built self-driving vehicle that we plan to launch in 2021 to support the expansion of our service," Marakby wrote on Medium.
He also told reporters during a press call that Ford will look to add additional partners, including local Miami businesses.
Ford could be accused of putting the cart before the horse in Florida, as it will essentially be conducting a trial-and-error process for several years before it has a truly autonomous platform. GM has taken a different tack with Cruise, rapidly developing an all-electric self-driving vehicle and putting it on the street to amass real-world experience. At some juncture, GM will link Cruise with its ride-hailing and sharing service, Maven, and possibly make its autonomous fleet available to ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft.
But under CEO Jim Hackett, who took over last year when Mark Fields was ousted amid a lagging stock price, Ford has been taking a broader view of new businesses. In Miami, the goal is clearly to have coherent businesses and reliable partners signed up before injecting autonomous vehicles into the system.
"We have to map the city and map the area before we can run in autonomous mode," Marakby said. "But the business and technology will converge in future."
He also told reporters that by 2021, Ford will be adding thousands of vehicles per year to its self-driving fleet.
"Starting the business two or three years ahead of launch is perfect," he said.