Collaboration Is Key to Putting Self-Driving Cars Back on the Street

By | May 14, 2020

By Don Conroy, Director of Operations, Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC

Safety is first and foremost ingrained in everything we do at Ford — a commitment that knows no boundaries. That means whether you work at our manufacturing facilities or self-driving vehicle terminals, every effort is being made to help create a safe operating environment for Ford employees and our extended Ford family.

Argo AI is a valued partner in developing Ford’s self-driving service and we consider its team part of our family. While the Argo AI team prepares to resume on-road testing by helping create a safe environment for its safety drivers and engineers inside the vehicle, at Ford we’re doing what we can to prepare our terminals for a safe return.

To make this happen, Ford and Argo AI have been collaborating on every step of the return to work process, while seeking and following direction from state and local authorities. We are also adopting best practice recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the World Health Organization.

Many of the new processes we have put in place for our self-driving terminals are outlined in a detailed Return to Work Playbook Ford developed for all its facilities. The playbook explains the new health and wellbeing protocols being implemented to help prepare Ford facilities for a return to work. These actions, as well as a few others we are enacting inside our terminals, include:

Deep cleaning: We have cleaned and disinfected all workstations and accessible offices, disinfected all common areas — including break and lunch areas, team rooms, entrances, locker rooms, restrooms and more — and instituted daily and weekly cleaning protocols.

Daily self-certify survey: Before coming to work, all employees must self-certify their health status in a daily digital survey and receive confirmation in order to gain access to a Ford facility. Those who indicate they may have symptoms or may have been exposed to coronavirus will not receive a confirmation and will not be permitted to report to work or to access a Ford facility.

Temperature scanning: Upon arriving to work, employees will receive a no-contact temperature scan. Anyone with a temperature reading above normal will not be permitted to enter the building and will need to be cleared of symptoms before returning to work.

A glance at the disinfecting process Ford and Argo AI will undertake to ensure vehicles are properly cleaned during the pandemic.

Personal protective equipment: All employees are required to wear a Ford-provided face mask at all times while inside company facilities. This includes wearing a mask outside while on Ford property as well. Ford-provided face masks will be supplied to all individuals working inside our autonomous vehicle terminals at the beginning of every shift to help employees feel safe and comfortable at work.

Redesigned workspace: All workstations and common areas have been adjusted to provide for six feet of physical distancing. Hand sanitizer stations have been installed in areas where soap and water is not quickly available. Additionally, we have designed traffic control measures, including one-way hallways or aisles with appropriate floor markings, to control the flow of people traveling through our facilities.

Vehicle disinfection: New guidelines have been developed to ensure self-driving test vehicles are cleaned and disinfected at the end of each safety drivers’ shift. These protocols include wearing latex or nitrile gloves when cleaning vehicles, disinfecting all high-touch areas inside the vehicle — steering wheel, knobs and handles, center console and touch screen — and properly discarding soiled disinfectant materials.

Reopening our terminals was a big decision — one we didn’t take lightly. While we believe strongly in the potential of self-driving vehicles to improve people’s lives in the future, taking care of our family today is priority one. By working closely with Argo AI, we are confident we have a comprehensive plan in place to get the team back on the road.

Collaboration Is Key to Putting Self-Driving Cars Back on the Street was originally published in Self-Driven on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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