Walmart's final-mile segment is on the driverless path. The world's largest retailer announced Wednesday a partnership with Ford Motor Company and Argo AI to launch autonomous vehicle delivery services in Miami, Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C. — Walmart’s first multi-city autonomous delivery collaboration in the U.S.
The multi-city service will enable Walmart customers to place online grocery orders and orders for other popular items and have them delivered via Ford self-driving test vehicles – Eclipse crossovers, initially – equipped with the Argo AI Self-Driving System.
Argo AI focuses on the testing and development of self-driving technology in urban areas where customer demand is high. By collaborating with Walmart and Ford, Argro AI founder and CEO Bryan Salesky said "we’re showing the potential for autonomous vehicle delivery services at scale.”
Walmart Senior Vice President of Last Mile Delivery Tom Ward noted the collaboration furthers the retailer's mission to get products to the homes of its customers more quickly and easier, "and in turn, will continue to pave the way for autonomous delivery."
The 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. Argo’s cloud-based infrastructure, which is designed to work with partners’ business operations, will integrate with Walmart’s online ordering platform to route orders and schedule package deliveries to customers’ homes.
As consumer expectations inch toward next- or same-day delivery — especially in urban areas with a high delivery density — this collaboration is expected to drive learnings in how autonomous technology can enhance customer experiences, while also optimizing logistics and operations.
“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.”
In addition to testing self-driving technology in Pittsburgh, Detroit and Palo Alto, California, 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.