Ford, Walmart and driverless vehicle technology startup Argo AI are working together to launch an autonomous vehicle delivery service in Miami, Austin, and Washington, D.C., Walmart’s first multi-city autonomous delivery collaboration in the United States, the companies announced Sept. 15.
The last-mile delivery service will use Ford autonomous test vehicles equipped with the Argo AI self-driving system to deliver Walmart orders to customers.
“Our focus on the testing and development of self-driving technology that operates in urban areas where customer demand is high really comes to life with this collaboration,” Bryan Salesky, founder and CEO of Argo AI, said in a statement. “Working together with Walmart and Ford across three markets, we’re showing the potential for autonomous vehicle delivery services at scale.”
The new commercial service will be available to Walmart customers within defined service areas of the three markets and will expand over time, with initial integration testing slated to begin later this year. Argo’s cloud-based infrastructure, which is designed to work seamlessly and efficiently with partners’ business operations, will integrate with Walmart’s online ordering platform to route orders and schedule package deliveries to customers’ homes.
“We’re excited to expand our autonomous delivery efforts in three new markets alongside Argo and Ford,” Tom Ward, senior vice president of last mile delivery, Walmart U.S., said in a statement. “This collaboration will further our mission to get products to the homes of our customers with unparalleled speed and ease, and in turn, will continue to pave the way for autonomous delivery.”
If consumer expectations continue to shift to next-day or same-day delivery as they are expected to, especially in the urban core where there is a higher concentration of deliveries, this collaboration may support insights into how autonomous technology can enhance customer experiences, to help optimize logistics and operations.
“Argo and Ford are aggressively preparing for large-scale autonomous vehicle operations across a broad footprint of U.S. cities,” Scott Griffith, CEO of Ford Autonomous Vehicles & Mobility Businesses, said in a statement. “Pairing Walmart’s retail and e-commerce leadership with Argo and Ford’s self-driving operations across these multiple cities marks a significant step toward scaling a commercial goods delivery service that will ultimately power first-to-scale business efficiencies and enable a great consumer experience.”
In addition to testing self-driving technology in Pittsburgh, Detroit and Palo Alto, Calif., Argo and Ford have operated in Miami and Washington, D.C., since 2018 and in Austin since 2019, to build autonomous ride-hailing and delivery services and establish the necessary real estate footprint and commercial fleet management capabilities, including fueling, servicing, and cleaning of self-driving vehicles, to support the customer and keep fleets running. Walmart previously tested with Ford in Miami in 2018.