Walmart is launching an autonomous vehicle delivery service with Ford and Self-driving startup Argo AI
As the self-driving delivery service market heats up, Walmart, Ford, and Argo AI announced today they’re teaming up to launch an autonomous vehicle delivery service in Miami, Austin, and Washington, D.C. As part of the pilot, the last-mile delivery service will use Ford self-driving test vehicles equipped with the Argo AI Self-Driving System to deliver Walmart orders to customers.
In a statement, the companies said the multi-city service will allow Walmart customers to place online orders of groceries and other popular items for autonomous delivery to their homes. Initial integration testing is expected to begin later this year.
The move is part of Walmart’s effort to take on Amazon, the e-commerce behemoth that has been offering same-day delivery to millions of its customers in different parts of the country.
As part of the project, Argo’s cloud-based system will integrate with Walmart’s online ordering platform to route orders and schedule package deliveries. Ford’s self-driving test vehicles with Argo’s self-driving system will then deliver the orders to customers.
“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. “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.”
This is not the first self-driving delivery project Walmart has participated in. Walmart had previously partnered with General Motor’s Cruise on a self-driving delivery pilot and with self-driving vehicle startups Gatik and Nuro to explore delivery through autonomous vehicles.
“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 collaboration brings together a self-driving technology provider with an automotive manufacturer able to integrate that technology with vehicles at scale, plus the world’s largest retailer. This combination builds on Walmart’s leadership in adopting emerging technologies to meet growing consumer expectations and enhance the last-mile delivery process. The multi-city service will enable Walmart customers to place orders of groceries and other popular items online for door-to-door autonomous delivery directly to customers’ homes.
The 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. As consumer expectations continue to shift to next-day or same-day delivery — especially in the urban core where there is a higher concentration of deliveries — this collaboration will drive key learnings in how autonomous technology can enhance customer experiences, while also optimizing logistics and 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, Ford Autonomous Vehicles & 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.”
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.
In addition to testing self-driving technology in Pittsburgh, Detroit and Palo Alto, Calif., Argo and Ford have been operating 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.
Founded in 2016 by Bryan Salesky and Peter Rander, the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based Argo AI is an autonomous vehicle technology platform that is developing self-driving technology in partnership with leading automakers, including Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen Group. The startup currently employs more than 1,400 people across major U.S. cities.