Ford to Partner with Walmart on Autonomous Grocery Delivery
【Summary】The Ford Motor Co announced that is partnering with Walmart, the biggest U.S. retailer, to deliver online orders using an autonomous driving delivery vehicle developed and built by Ford.
The Ford Motor Co announced that is partnering with Walmart, the biggest U.S. retailer, to deliver online orders using an autonomous driving delivery vehicle developed and built by Ford.
The company announced it is working with logistics company Postmates to set up a pilot program that explores how Ford's self-driving vehicles can complement Walmart's existing delivery services. Postmates is already a partner of both Ford and Walmart, the companies are able to utilize Postmates' infrastructure to get the pilot up and running quickly.
According to Walmart, customers have responded positively to its grocery delivery option, which uses the company's trained personal shoppers to select fresh produce and other groceries for orders that are then fulfilled through Postmates and its other delivery networks.
By the end of this year, Walmart's delivery option will be available in 800 stores across 100 metropolitan areas around the country. Next year, the number of stores offering delivery service is expected to double.
Like Ford, Walmart believes that self-driving vehicles have an important role to play in the future of delivery. Ford will be using a fleet of research vehicles designed to simulate an autonomous experience and gather crucial data about consumer preferences and learn the best way to connect people with the goods they need.
In a blog post, Ford wrote, "Over the next couple of months, we'll be working closely with Walmart to understand its operations, identify what goods we can feasibly transport, and pinpoint any issues that may need to be addressed to successfully deliver orders via self-driving vehicles."
As part of the pilot, Ford will be exploring different vehicle configurations or modifications to meet people's needs — especially ways to accommodate perishable goods, or scenarios where the autonomous vehicles end up making multiple deliveries on a single trip.
"We're committed to putting that effort in now instead of waiting for AVs to be on the road, having already completed more than 1,000 deliveries as part of the initial phases of building up our self-driving business. We're confident that working with Walmart will strengthen our effort to successfully deploy self-driving vehicles in a way that people actually want to experience — whether they're ordering takeout, groceries or anything else they might need." Ford wrote in a blog post.
This is not the first time Ford is testing out autonomous delivery. In February, Ford announced a partnership with Domino's and Postmates in Florida to deliver pizzas using a self-driving vehicle.
The Florida pilot was designed to allow the companies to study human interaction with seemingly driverless car delivering food, as the automaker explores the commercial viability of autonomous delivery technology.
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