By on April 29, 2019

This author absolutely loves Ford Europe’s extracurricular mobility projects, in the same way someone might enjoy Tommy Wiseau’s The Room or watching for Paul Masson.

While certainly not as good as the automaker’s , or  puck (my all-time favorite “mobility innovation”), Ford’s new shopping cart isn’t far behind in terms of accidental amusement. It just happens to have enough practical applications to avoid being hysterical. 

However, like the other aforementioned Ford projects, the shopping cart is really more of a clever way for the automaker to tout its advanced driving systems than a solution for supermarket shoppers.

The doghouse provided an avenue for the company to mention the noise-canceling features available in the Edge SUV, the bed gave a semi-helpful visual for what lane-keeping was, and the cart does the same for automatic emergency braking. Ford has no intention of selling it to supermarkets (for now), especially since no business would splurge on the associated technologies just to help prevent minor dings in the parking lot.

 

In the spot, Ford’s interviewees fault children for the majority of shopping cart mishaps, suggesting that “it’s impossible to control children” when they take hold of one. While a responsible guardian (assuming those still exist) should be sufficient in minimizing the issue, Ford’s “trolley” utilizes something akin to the company’s Pre-Collision Assist to automatically halt the cart before it collides with shelving, an automobile, or some unaware geriatric who just wanted to buy a loaf of bread without being mowed down by a 10-year-old.

“Parents often dread supermarket shopping because they are trying to get a job done and kids just want to play,” parenting expert Tanith Carey, author of What’s My Child Thinking? Practical Child Psychology for Modern Parents, said in Ford’s press release. “Children love to copy adults and experiment with feeling more in control. When they push a trolley, to their minds, it’s like they are behind the wheels of a car — with long, wide supermarket aisles as their racetrack.”

Well, let’s be sure to stop that kind of thinking from manifesting itself into play. We don’t want kids trying to take control of something in their own lives or, God forbid, imagining that they’re having fun behind the wheel of an automobile. Lock it down, Ford.

The concept stops short of being truly funny, but the design of the car is another story — as it appears to be made out of paper, lightweight plastic panels and small-gauge PVC piping.

We also hate to break it to Ford Europe, but carts already exist that can stop themselves using a mechanical bar that applies pressure to the wheels whenever someone removes their hand. Some stores even have carts that sense when they’re taken beyond the property and automatically lock their wheels.

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

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17 Comments on “Behold Ford’s Futuristic Shopping Cart...”


  • avatar
    aja8888

    Yeah, those expensive carts will last about 10 minutes in Walmart parking lots around here. Either they will be stolen or end up hit by drivers of handicapped cars.

    Ford ought to use their engineers’ talents for development of passenger vehicles instead of high priced, low margin shopping carts.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    What a meaningless and costly distraction for Ford.

    I’ll have to ask my wife how she managed our 5 kids at the supermarket without this thing. Maybe she left them in the car.

    • 0 avatar
      EGSE

      Where this could be useful is for the electric scooters the stores supply for handicapped patrons. I took my (now deceased) mother to the supermarket and she wanted to try one out (she had limited mobility). I had to stop her after a few minutes as she crashed into anything that couldn’t run away from her. You can make an impressive mess at 2.8 mph.

    • 0 avatar
      tylanner

      I actually think this is a step in the right direction….Imagine if instead of building practical technology, they wasted millions of dollars a minute trying to tie the likeness of the brand to the coolness of Matthew McConaughey….whose contrived expositions are valued solely for their parodic potential.

  • avatar
    EGSE

    This could be viewed with detached bemusement or with a bit of angst that Ford is fiddling while the market figuratively burns down. A head-movie of a steward running around the decks of the Titanic posting handbills on tomorrow’s dinner menu comes to mind.

    It’s a cute little technical diversion that would have appealed to me when I was working, but you do this after the heavy lifting is over.

  • avatar
    James2

    I avoid the supermarket scene altogether since my supermarket offers delivery services. I gladly pay the small convenience fee (sometimes waived) if I can avoid lugging heavy items up to my box in the sky.

    So, good try, Ford’s smart cart, but you ain’t dinging my car no more.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      My supermarket has a service like that, but they had the delivery fee in increased costs for the items.

      I noticed because we started using their delivery app (Shipt) as a shopping list, and still shopped ourselves when we could — and I noticed the prices on our shopping list we’re several percent higher (15%) than what was marked in the store.

      It was a fair price for delivery service. But raising the prices this way was a sneaky way to charge it.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    I thought this was going a Captcha-like route with mass-testing of collision detection systems in a benign, low-risk environment. Turned out to be an undergrads senior project.

    However I can attest that this type of “exercising of entrepreneurial legs” is sweeping the corporate landscape…a palpable insecurity that we all must become digital businesses or die a slow death at the feet of server farms.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      The flip side of the “entrepreneurial legs” question that, due to Silicon Valley’s disdain for business degrees, a lot of SV types are ignorant of the need to trade goods & services for money in order to build a sustainable business.

      On the flip-flip side, one of the great differences between Startup Life and Big Company Life is that you have to be able to do a little bit of everything — if you restrict yourself to just engineering or software development, you won’t even be able to file the paperwork to register the company. You also have to be
      , accountant, a manager and a diplomat, as well (my two most recent startup bosses failed spectacularly at these things). You can learn this stuff in business school (traditional), or try to figure it out on your own while your savings dry up (SV), or find a good mentor — but learn it you must. It would be easy to overlook this aspect of startup experience in a corporate intrapreneurship exercise.

  • avatar

    So that’s why Ford cancelled Focus and Fusion for things like that! Bravo Hackett, bravissimo, you exceeded all expectations!

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      They canceled those cars because they were low margin products, and they couldn’t bet on a steady US trade policy during the Fox News administration.

      A trade war could quickly turn those low-margin (but profitable) products into big money losers.

      In the current environment, high margin products like the F-150 are where the emphasis needs to be — even if it allows you to get caught with your pants down during the next fuel price spike. Ford seems to be mitigating these two risks by a) investing in PHEV F-150s / Explorers and b) continuing to produce small cars for foreign markets. This should allow them to avoid GMimg themselves.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    I’d say it’s hard to screw up a basket on wheels but then Ford screwed up 500K sedan sales/yr so I guess anything is possible.

    But good job Hackett. Awesome that you are focusing on the things that will keep Ford viable. Hopefully next you can tackle the reusable shopping bag.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      The current business environment is too volitile for Ford to gamble on low-margin products like sedans.

      I like small cars more than most, and currently own and love a sedan (2016 Honda Civic). BUT, if I were running Ford, I’d likely make the same decisions their leadership has.

      Just watch what happens over the next few years. Ford will survive, even if they’ve thrown in a towel on a segment where they can barely hold a candle to Honda.

  • avatar
    redgolf

    Aldi’s has the right idea on shopping carts, put your quarter in, unlock cart from next one, shop, walk cart to car, take cart back to start and retrieve your quarter! Or pass it forward to the next person who may not have a quarter ( a common house key in slot also works ) ;-)

  • avatar
    bg

    How about a cart that only rolls when a lever is squeezed or pressed. This could be done with a simple mechanical lever. No electronics needed.

  • avatar
    Igloo

    Seems to me the entire point of the exercise was to provide a “visual” picture of said Ford automobile technology. Excellent way to get people who would not normally pay attention to a car advertisement to ‘pay attention’ to a car advertisement! Well done.

  • avatar
    Chris Powers

    Who is the Old Navy model in the video?


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