Walmart is planning to expand its autonomous vehicle delivery service in Miami, Austin, and Washington, D.C. For this, the retail giant has collaborated with Ford Motor and autonomous car startup Argo AI, which has the backing of Ford. The collaboration will use Ford Escape hybrids and the technology of Argo AI. Once started, the customers of Walmart in these locations will be able to place orders online and their items will be delivered on the doorstep through autonomous delivery. The ordering platform of the retail giant will be integrated with the cloud-based infrastructure of Argo. This will allow Argo to track orders and schedule deliveries of packages.
Senior vice president of Walmart US Tom Ward said that the company is excited to expand it autonomous vehicle delivery service. “We are expanding the service in three new markets. The partnership with Argo AI and Ford will further our mission. We can now deliver packages at the doorstep of our customers with unparalleled speed and ease. We will continue to bring more advancement in the field of autonomous delivery,” Ward said. It must be noted that Walmart and Ford have already operated a similar pilot program in the year 2018.
At the moment, Walmart is already operating a self-driving delivery pilot project in collaboration with Cruise and Gatik. Cruise is backed by General Motors. It must be noted that the retail giant recently took a stake in Cruise. The financial details of the deal are not known yet. The retail giant is focusing on online grocery orders as it is the main part of Walmart+ – a membership program launched by the company last year. The main benefit of the program is that it offers unlimited free deliveries of groceries to member’s homes. The retail giant launched the service in order to compete with Amazon Prime. The retail giant has registered a sharp increase in online sales during the pandemic. This is mainly because the restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic forced consumers to shop online.