Testing will begin in Miami, Austin and Washington, DC
Ford and Walmart are teaming up to launch a robo-delivery service in three US cities, using autonomous test vehicles equipped with sensors and software developed by Argo AI. Customers living in Miami, Austin and Washington, DC who order items online from Walmart and live in a specific geographic area may be eligible to have their items delivered by Ford/Argo vehicle.
The companies plan to begin “integration tests” for the delivery service this year, with plans to expand geographic regions over time. According to a recent report, autonomous delivery is seen as a potentially lucrative market, with online grocery shopping growing five-fold over the next decade and US consumers spending more than $100 billion on meals at home by 2025. are spending.
Ford has been experimenting with robo-delivery for many years. In 2018, it announced a grocery delivery pilot with Walmart and Instacart. The automaker is also helping Domino’s deliver pizzas using its autonomous vehicles.
There are still too many obstacles to get to work. Vehicles would require human monitors behind the wheel as well as from a remote command center, so any potential labor savings would still be years away. Customers must receive their deliveries by vehicles, which can cause problems for elderly and disabled customers as well as people living in apartment buildings and delivery workers accustomed to who bring their orders to their doorsteps.
Ford isn’t the only company trying to address these challenges. Cruise, which is backed by General Motors, has its own pilot project with Walmart in Arizona. In fact, the retail giant is hedging its bets by forming non-exclusive partnerships with a wide range of AV operators, including Nuro, uDelev, and Waymo.
Delivery is just one aspect of Ford’s plan to commercialize autonomous vehicles. The automaker recently announced that it is partnering with Lyft to deploy Robotaxis in those same three cities before the end of the year.
In addition to Austin, Miami and DC, Ford and Argo are testing their fourth-generation vehicles in Pittsburgh, Detroit and California. Argo is preparing to launch an autonomous micro-transit and delivery service with VW in Germany using its fifth-generation autonomous technology starting in 2025. The AV company is rumored to be considering an initial public offering at a valuation of $12.4 billion.