The delivery service for Walmart customers already has plans to expand over time, and initial testing is set to begin later this year. - Photo: Ford

The delivery service for Walmart customers already has plans to expand over time, and initial testing is set to begin later this year.

Photo: Ford

Ford Motor Company, Argo AI, and Walmart announced a new collaboration on Sept. 15 for the launch of an autonomous vehicle delivery service in Miami, Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C. 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.

The partnership brings together the self-driving technology provider with an automotive manufacturer able to integrate that technology with vehicles at scale, plus the world’s largest retailer. 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, and helps Walmart enhance the last-mile delivery process.

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.

“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.”

"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."

“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 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.

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