Ford, Walmart in driverless project
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.