Ford, Wal­mart in driver­less pro­ject

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS - Au­to­mo­tive News Europe

Ford and Wal­mart have started a joint pi­lot to ex­plore how they can use self-driv­ing ve­hi­cles to de­liver gro­ceries and other goods.

The pro­ject be­gan in the Mi­ami, US area where Ford has set up op­er­a­tions for a busi­ness re­volv­ing around au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles, ex­pected to launch com­mer­cially by 2021.

This is not the first time Ford has in­ves­ti­gated self-driv­ing de­liv­ery cars. Some of the com­pany’s prod­ucts can be seen on­line de­liv­er­ing sup­pos­edly still warm piz­zas dur­ing a sim­i­lar pro­ject with a pizza chain. Over the next few months, Ford and Wal­mart will join forces to un­der­stand each other’s op­er­a­tions and iden­tify which goods are best for au­to­mated de­liv­ery while ex­am­in­ing ve­hi­cle con­fig­u­ra­tions or mod­i­fi­ca­tions needed to meet cus­tomer de­mands.

“Like us, Wal­mart be­lieves that self-driv­ing ve­hi­cles have an im­por­tant role to play in the fu­ture of de­liv­ery, and that true suc­cess comes from first learn­ing how in­di­vid­u­als want to use them in their daily lives,” said Brian Wolf, busi­ness lead in Ford Au­ton­o­mous Ve­hi­cles. “To­gether, we’ll be gath­er­ing data about con­sumer pref­er­ences and learn­ing the best way we can con­ve­niently con­nect peo­ple with the goods they need.”

Ford has con­ducted ride­hail­ing and de­liv­ery test op­er­a­tions be­fore while work­ing with part­ners. One, de­liv­ery plat­form Post­mates, will play a role in the Ford-Wal­mart col­lab­o­ra­tion. Wal­mart has used Post­mates and other net­works to de­liver gro­ceries. Sep­a­rately, Ford has worked with Post­mates on ve­hi­cle dis­patch and rout­ing sys­tems in its Mi­ami pi­lot.

Wal­mart has gro­cery de­liv­ery op­tions avail­able in 800 stores across 100 ur­ban ar­eas in the US and the num­ber of stores is ex­pected to dou­ble in size by 2019. This isn’t Wal­mart’s first au­to­mated-ve­hi­cle part­ner­ship too. The com­pany has worked on a pi­lot where cus­tomers were brought to stores to re­trieve their gro­ceries in au­ton­o­mous driv­ing cars.

There’s still re­search to be done. Ex­am­i­na­tions like what ve­hi­cle mod­i­fi­ca­tions would be nec­es­sary for gro­cery de­liv­ery, in which or­ders tend to be larger, still need be fet­tled with while also fig­ur­ing out the num­ber of or­ders pos­si­ble on a sin­gle trip.

Food, laun­dry or flow­ers have been de­liv­ered by self-driv­ing cars.

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