Ford’s rehabilitation of the Michigan Central Station in Detroit will involve the testing of drone deliveries in a three-mile radius of the station. The goal is to gain approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for drone operators to fly longer distances and beyond visual sight lines. This initiative aims to tap into the projected $50 billion drone industry by 2030 and provide a new source of revenue for Ford. The testing will be conducted in collaboration with the state’s Department of Transportation and will involve the delivery of medicine, food, and other small items to nearby residents. Ford’s subsidiary, Michigan Central, sees this as an intersection between mobility and society, where real-world problems can be solved using drones in a practical environment. The station, once a symbol of Detroit’s prominence as the Motor City, has fallen into disrepair due to the decline of the auto industry and lack of investment. Ford plans to turn the station into a hub for future mobility ventures, including self-driving cars, software and connected technologies, and drones. The drone experiment will be one of the first tests of Ford’s theory that collaborative environments breed new services rooted in data analysis and technological innovation. The company has yet to select drone operators but anticipates focusing on prescription drug deliveries and medical supply transportation initially. The hope is that the data collected during the drone deliveries will help support the case for flying beyond the line of sight. Ford’s entry into drone delivery follows similar efforts by companies such as UPS, FedEx, Amazon, and Google.
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