(Photo : GettlyImages/ SOPA Images ) Walmart delivery
Walmart has partnered up with Ford to launch a new delivery service available in three major cities in the United States.
The new service, called robo-delivery, will be using autonomous test cars with built-in sensors. The software of the said vehicle is developed and distributed by Argo AI.
Walmart and Ford to Launch Robo-Delivery
Customers who reside in Austin, Texas; Miami, Florida; and Washington, D.C, who orders items from Walmart via its official website and live within a specific area are eligible to have their items delivered by a Ford autonomous vehicle.
The two companies plan to start the integration testing of the vehicles for the delivery service this year. They also plan to expand the geographic areas in the next few years.
Autonomous delivery is now seen as a lucrative market, with online grocery shopping growing over the next ten years and American consumers spending more than $100 billion on delivery services by 2025, according to The Verge.
Ford has been experimenting with robo-delivery for years now. In 2018, the automaker announced that a grocery delivery pilot would be introduced with Postmates and Walmart as partners. Ford also helped Domino's Pizza deliver food using its autonomous vehicles.
The robo-delivery service is not as smooth sailing as the companies expected it to be. There are still a lot of issues that need to be sorted out.
The cars themselves need human monitors, both behind the wheel and from remote command centers. Any potential labor savings would happen years from now, according to Mashable.
Also, customers would have to retrieve their deliveries from the cars, which could cause some issues for differently-abled customers and the elderly and those who live in apartment buildings and are used to delivery workers bringing their orders straight to their doorstep.
Automakers on Delivery Services
Ford is not the only vehicle company that is trying to work through these issues. General Motors also has its own project with Walmart in Arizona.
The retail giant is securing its spot on the market by partnering with several AV operators, including Waymo, Nuro, and Udelv.
In 2018, Walmart expanded its delivery services to 100 cities across the United States.
Delivery is just one part of Ford's plan to commercialize autonomous vehicles. Ford recently announced that it was partnering with Lyft to launch robotaxis in Miami, Austin, and Washington D.C before 2021 ends, according to Bloomberg.
The plan was announced in July, and the car company stated that it would begin with a modest fleet size, with less than 100 taxis on the streets of the three major cities.
However, Ford added that it has plans to deploy more than 1,000 autonomous vehicles across several states over the next five years.
Aside from Miami, Austin, and Washington D.C, Argo AI and Ford have been testing their fourth-generation vehicles in Detroit, Michigan, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Los Angeles, California.
Argo AI is also reportedly preparing to introduce an autonomous micro-transit and delivery service with Volkswagen in Germany, using its fifth-generation autonomous technology.
The project will be launched in 2025. The company is said to be valued at $12.4 billion on the market.
Written by Sophie Webster