Self-driving startup Argo AI, automaker Ford Motor Co and Walmart Inc will soon launch an autonomous vehicle delivery service in Miami, Austin, and Washington, D.C, the companies said on Wednesday.
Initial integration testing is expected to begin later this year, the companies added. The service will use hybrid Ford Escapes fitted with Argo's self-driving technology to deliver goods to customers who place orders for groceries and other items online. It will operate at one store in each of the three markets — presumably with a human backup driver — and provide service within a nearby geographic zone, but is expected to expand to other stores over time.
The move comes as consumer expectations shift to next-day or same-day delivery, particularly in urban areas with a higher concentration of deliveries.
Argo's cloud-based system will integrate with Walmart's online ordering platform to route orders and schedule package deliveries.
“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, who promised "a great consumer experience.”
"This collaboration will further our mission to get products to the homes of our customers with unparalleled speed," said Tom Ward, senior vice president of last mile delivery at Walmart in the United States.
Walmart had previously partnered with GM's Cruise on a self-driving delivery pilot and with self-driving vehicle startups Gatik and Nuro to explore delivery through autonomous vehicles. Walmart previously tested with Ford in Miami in 2018.
Argo and Ford have been testing self-driving technology in Pittsburgh, Detroit and Palo Alto, Calif., and have been developing ride-hailing and deliveries in Miami and Washington, D.C., since 2018 and in Austin since 2019.
Ford in the past has partnered with Postmates and Domino's on autonomous delivery programs. In July, Ford and Argo said they planned a self-driving Lyft ride-hailing program this year in Miami and Austin.
Ford, Walmart and Argo AI team up for deliveries by autonomous vehicles originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 15 Sep 2021 09:07:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.