- Further expanding its autonomous vehicle delivery testing, Walmart has partnered with Ford Motor Company and Argo AI to launch a self-driving vehicle delivery service in Miami, Washington, D.C. and Austin, Texas, the retailer announced on Wednesday. The collaboration will be the retailer's first autonomous delivery effort in multiple U.S. cities.
- The delivery service, which will cover grocery as well as non-grocery items, will use Ford's self-driving test vehicles and Argo AI's self-driving system to transport Walmart orders to shoppers. To start, the service will only be available to Walmart customers within a defined area, but that will expand over time, the company said.
- Argo AI and Ford have been testing self-driving technologies in Pittsburgh, Detroit and Palo Alto, California. The two have also been operating in Miami and Washington, D.C. since 2018 and in Austin since 2019, per the announcement.
Walmart's partnership with Ford and Argo AI is part of the retailer's ongoing experimentation with autonomous deliveries and its efforts to improve its deliveries overall. The company noted in its press release that it tested autonomous deliveries with Ford in Miami back in 2018.
"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," Tom Ward, senior vice president of last-mile delivery at Walmart U.S., said in a statement.
Besides its partnership with Ford, Walmart has tapped other autonomous vehicle companies to launch delivery services in other cities. In 2019, the retailer partnered with Nuro on autonomous grocery deliveries for Houston customers. And in April, the company invested an undisclosed sum into Cruise, a San Francisco-based self-driving vehicle startup that it has partnered with in the past. The investment was part of the company's effort to bring self-driving cars into its operations.
"Argo and Ford are aggressively preparing for large-scale autonomous vehicle operations across a broad footprint of U.S. cities," said Scott Griffith, CEO of Ford's autonomous vehicles and mobility businesses. "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."
While Walmart ramps up its autonomous delivery services in select U.S. cities, the retailer has also altered its more traditional delivery services and aims to provide its delivery technology to other businesses. Earlier this year, the retail giant dropped its $35 purchase minimum for its two-hour express delivery service. The company announced plans last month to offer Walmart GoLocal, its delivery platform, to other businesses.