Top 5 Auto Industry Innovations Under COVID-19Posted on: July 25, 2020
As residents of Central Florida keep an eye on the surge of COVID-19 cases here, across the state, and around the nation, everyone trying so desperately to stay safe and get back to work, a little encouragement is in order. Or at least some positivity. Here are Five Auto Industry Innovations that have proven effective (and occasionally very interesting) during this lingering pandemic:
DRIVERLESS CARS DELIVER FOOD FOR FAMILIES IN NEED
For most of us, the survival of our most beloved restaurants has been in question these past few months, with many closing down and going bankrupt for lack of business. Eventually, there were those that not only opened up, but introduced take out options that allowed us to stay at home, while delivery drivers made drops at the door. And then there were other areas of the country that took it a step further, teaming up with autonomous tech companies so that those deliveries could be made by a driverless vehicle. For anyone with a steady income amidst isolation, these steps have been helpful. But for those who have lost jobs and are struggling to put food on the table, these ideas needed another jolt of innovation.
Enter the Hyundai-Aptive Autonomous Driving Joint Venture and their efforts to deliver food for families in need in Las Vegas, a way of giving back to the community. The program is called Delivering with Dignity, aimed at providing meals to households with a higher degree of risk for contracting COVID-19.
Thanks to private financial donations, numerous partnerships with nonprofit agencies, a cadre of Food Hero delivery volunteers, and multiple independently owned restaurants, Delivering with Dignity delivers per week an average of 4,500 meals. Each delivery can feed recipients for three days.
More locally, Feeding America through Second Harvest has expanded on a MealConnect Platform that encourages restaurants and businesses to donate their unused and unsold food for the benefit of those in the community who are hungry. These local businesses can now use an app to correspond with Feeding America and coordinate a safe and distanced pickup on site, then allocate that extra food for families in need.
FORD AND HONDA BUILD FACE SHIELDS, VENTILATORS FOR FIRST RESPONDERS
Near the beginning of the pandemic, as quarantine was only just setting in, Ford Motor Company stepped in front of the situation and allowed their engineering wing t flex its muscle beyond the manufacturing of cars and trucks to produce medical supplies and equipment like respirators, ventilators, and even face shields. Ford collaborated with companies like 3M and General Electric to build respirators that could purify the air and ventilators that could extend life for those struggling to breath on their own. Just this past month, a Ford plant in Canada shipped out one million face masks.
The face shields may seem like an extra layer of protection beyond a mask for average citizens, but experts have noted that masks are more of a filtration measure, taken to minimize exposure to aerosol particles.
They are endlessly reusable, simply requiring cleaning with soap and water or common disinfectants. Shields are usually more comfortable to wear than masks, and they form a barrier that keeps people from easily touching their own faces. When speaking, people sometimes pull down a mask to make things easier — but that isn’t necessary with a face shield.
Honda builds their own masks through the use of 3D Printers as well as plastic injection molding, pulling from some of the machines used to build automobiles to support the goals and needs of the CDC, eventually making more than 3,000 shields per hour. Honda has also invested a great deal of energy into building a team that can identify the greatest areas of need in local communities around the country, prioritizing shields and their own version of a life-saving ventilator for hospitals and first responders in the field.
NO MORE DRIVES TO THE PHARMACY
In late May, it was reported that CVS had partnered with Nuro, a robotics company known for its production of self-driving delivery vehicles, to ensure those most vulnerable to respiratory illness and pneumonia through COVID-19 would have access to their regular prescriptions without having to leave home and expose themselves to illness. CVS even amped up their standards of delivery in areas like Houston, Texas, saying that customers would have their prescriptions within an hour of their order placement. Prior to their joint work with CVS, Nuro had mostly been known for its collaboration with Domino’s pizza and Kroger grocers, which caught the attention of health professionals eager to ensure that patients are provided the same options.
Earlier this week, Autoweek pointed out that even though Nuro robotics are an appealing move in the right direction, there are still some logistical problems with expanding their brand beyond a few major communities. For one, the automated vehicles and robots are still not available en masse. But second, and perhaps more obviously, there are tremendous risks to an unmanned robot transporting pharmaceuticals in a highly populated area. Autoweek suggests that Nuro and similar companies may be short-lived. But if it works in some places, perhaps the right people will find a way for it work in more places on a broader scale.
TRANSPORTING COVID-19 TESTS BETWEEN SITES
The phrase “automated people pods” may sound like a strange and even goofy puzzle of words, but up in Jacksonville, the local transportation division has already joined with Beep, an automated shuttle fleet service, to up the pace of COVID-19 tests, their delivery to a targeted lab, and their ultimate dissemination of results. At the beginning, “up to four” autonomous vehicles were being used without any drivers or passengers, but are then followed by a security vehicle with flashing lights. The head of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority had this to say when the program began taking off last April:
Along with our partners, Beep, NAVYA and Mayo Clinic, we are leveraging our learning from three years of testing autonomous vehicles through our Ultimate Urban Circulator program. Our innovative team saw this as an opportunity to use technology to respond to this crisis in Northeast Florida and increase the safety of COVID-19 testing.
Generally at the cutting edge of medicine and medical innovation, the Mayo Clinic also just recently launched their own Hospital-at-Home program, aiding those who need care, but whose care can be monitored from a safer, more isolated location.
UNDERSTANDING THE “MOVE WHAT MATTERS” CAMPAIGN
Over the last two to three weeks, a large number of major companies, from Starbucks to McDonald’s, have gone on record to require not only their employees, but their customers to wear a mask. And with an increase of cases, an increase in county regulations making their usage more commonly understood, it should come as no surprise that Uber has also shifted its stance, issuing a No Mask No Ride rule. And drivers are pretty well on board, with one having this to say.
I just ask that all riders, and even the drivers follow safety protocol. It’s the only way we’re going to get back to normal with our ride shares, and picking up people and everything and being safe and feeling comfortable about it.
And while that may still anger a few people who want to get from one place to another without being hassled, Uber is working well beyond the scope of individual transportation in order to collaborate with industry services from restaurants to other food services. In addition to giving $3 million to the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund, which helps to aid cooks, servers, and delivery drivers whose livelihood and income has been gravely impacted by the pandemic, UberEats is also doing its part to pick up orders and drop them off at homes with contactless delivery.
As early as mid-March, Uber had already drawn praise for its commitment of 300,000 free meals to first responders across the United States and Canada, knowing their efforts to protect people from the threat of COVID-19 was already exhausting and periodically thankless, even way back then. Today, that mission continues, along with a service that offers free transportation to and from work for every healthcare worker who moves between facilities and homes of need.
Innovations around the nation and even in the State of Florida are sporadic, but they indicate signs of life, efforts to streamline support for the majority of Americans still trying to figure out their way through this ongoing pandemic. If you learn about something happening in our area, or if you are playing a part in similar endeavors throughout Central Florida, we would love to hear your story.
If you or someone you love has been the victim of a wrongful death, a personal injury, or a motor vehicle accident, please contact the law offices of Beers and Gordon P.A. for a free consultation. Our firm serves all of Seminole, Orange, Volusia, Lake, and Brevard counties, including Oviedo, Winter Springs, Altamonte Springs, Sanford, Longwood, Winter Park, Lake Mary, and Greater Orlando. Our attorneys have over 50 years of combined experience ready and willing to go the distance on your case. Call us right away at 407-862-1825.