Retail giant Walmart is set to provide autonomous vehicle delivery service in three cities in the U.S. in partnership with automaker Ford Motor and autonomous driving technology firm Agro AI. This move will enable Walmart to offer last mile delivery to its customers spanning the three urban markets of Miami, Austin and Washington, D.C.
“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,” said Tom Ward, senior vice president of last mile delivery, Walmart U.S.
The commercial service will be available to Walmart customers within the defined service areas of the three markets and will expand over time, with initial integration testing slated to begin later this year.
The last mile delivery service will use Ford’s self-driving test vehicles equipped with the Argo AI Self-Driving System to deliver Walmart orders to customers. This will be Walmart’s first multi-city autonomous goods delivery service collaboration in the U.S.
Under this partnership, the customers of the world’s largest retailer will be able to place orders of groceries and other popular items online for door-to-door autonomous delivery directly to customers’ homes. Walmart previously tested with Ford in Miami in 2018.
For effective autonomous delivery, Argo will integrate its cloud-based infrastructure, which is designed to work seamlessly and efficiently with partners’ business operations, with Walmart’s online ordering platform to route orders and schedule package deliveries to customers’ homes.
Ford noted that “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.”
Argo and Ford have already been testing self-driving technology in Miami and Washington, D.C., since 2018 and in Austin since 2019, for autonomous ride-hailing and delivery services. The self-driving technology has also been tested in Pittsburgh, Detroit and Palo Alto.
In Miami, Austin and Washington, D.C., Agro and Ford have also established the necessary real estate footprint and commercial fleet management capabilities, including fueling, servicing, and cleaning of self-driving vehicles, to support customers and keep fleets running.
Agro AI was co-founded in 2016 by Bryan Salesky and Peter Rander, veterans of the Google and Uber automated driving programs. The company is 40 percent held by Ford, 40 percent by Volkswagen and the balance 20 percent is held by the Argo AI founders and employees.
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