Ford Motor Co., Argo AI, and Walmart Inc. yesterday said they are working together to launch an autonomous vehicle delivery service in Miami, Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C. Walmart said it will be its first multi-city autonomous delivery collaboration in the U.S. The last-mile service will use Ford self-driving test vehicles equipped with the Argo AI Self-Driving System.
“We're excited to expand our autonomous delivery efforts in three new markets alongside Argo and Ford,” stated Tom Ward, senior vice president of last-mile delivery at 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.”
The partnership of Walmart, which claims to be the world's largest retailer, with Argo AI and Ford will enable the integration of self-driving technology with vehicles at scale, said the companies. Walmart said the collaboration builds on its 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 their homes.
Walmart to study autonomous deliveries
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, said the three companies. They added that their collaboration will drive key learnings in how autonomous technology can enhance customer experiences while also optimizing logistics and operations.
“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 of Argo AI. “Working together with Walmart and Ford across three markets, we’re showing the potential for autonomous vehicle delivery services at scale.”
Pittsburgh-based Argo AI said its cloud-based infrastructure is designed to work seamlessly and efficiently with partners’ business operations. The company's infrastructure will integrate with Walmart’s online ordering platform to route orders and schedule package deliveries 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, said the partners. Initial integration will begin later this year, they said.
Argo AI continues collaborations
Argo AI said it is developing self-driving technology in partnership with automakers including Ford and Volkswagen Group to make getting around cities safe, easy, and enjoyable for all. The company employs more than 1,400 people and has engineering centers in Dearborn, Mich.; Cranbury, N.J.; Palo Alto, Calif.; and Munich, Germany. Argo is also testing autonomous vehicles on public roads in Pittsburgh and Detroit.
Argo and Ford said they have been operating in Miami and Washington, D.C., since 2018 and in Austin since 2019. They have been building autonomous ride-hailing and delivery services. The two companies have also established a real estate footprint and commercial fleet management capabilities, including fueling, servicing, and cleaning of self-driving vehicles.
“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 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.”
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