Will Walmart’s latest test ‘pave the way for autonomous delivery’?
Walmart and Ford announced yesterday that the two companies are working together to launch an autonomous vehicle delivery service in Austin, TX, Miami and Washington, D.C.
The program is not Walmart’s first program testing autonomous vehicles, but it is the first to be done on a multi-city basis. Ford will supply Ford Escape hybrid vehicles controlled with Argo AI self-driving technology. Ford is a financial backer of Argo.
“We’re excited to expand our autonomous delivery efforts in three new markets alongside Argo and Ford,” said Tom Ward, senior vice president of last mile delivery, Walmart U.S., 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.”
Later this year, Walmart will make the service available to customers within defined areas in the three cities and plans to expand over time. Consumer expectations around deliveries, particularly the growing need for speed with next-day and same-day options, is a driving force behind the retailer’s autonomous vehicle push. Walmart is looking to develop insights into how the use of self-driving technology affects the customer experience and its role in optimizing logistics and operations.
The retailer expects to benefit from groundwork laid by Ford and Argo in Austin, Miami and the nation’s capital. The two companies have been operating in Miami and Washington, D.C. since 2018 and started in Texas’ capital city a year later. Walmart worked with Ford in Miami in 2018.
“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,” said Bryan Salesky, founder and CEO, Argo AI. “Working together with Walmart and Ford across three markets, we’re showing the potential for autonomous vehicle delivery services at scale.”
The pilot with Ford and Argo is just one of several that Walmart has pursued.
The retailer has worked with Nuro in an autonomous delivery test in Houston. Nuro was the first company to be granted permission to operate fully automated vehicles on public roads in Arizona, California and Texas.
- Ford, Argo AI, and Walmart to Launch Autonomous Vehicle Delivery Service in Three U.S. Cities – Ford Motor Company/Argo AI/Walmart/Business Wire
- Walmart Teams Up with Cruise to Pilot All-Electric Self-Driving Delivery Powerd by 100% Renewable Energy – Walmart
- Walmart to Test-Drive Autonomous Grocery Deliveries with Nuro – Walmart
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are artificial intelligence systems learning at a fast enough pace to convince you that autonomous deliveries will be viable within the next decade? What do you see as the likely future role of autonomous delivery vehicles at Walmart, in particular, and in retail more broadly?