The world’s largest retailer is beginning to make deliveries to people’s homes without the proverbial delivery person. The Ford Motor Company and its autonomous-driving technology partner Argo AI are joining forces with Walmart on a pilot program for home retail deliveries around Miami, Austin, Texas; and Washington, D.C. using Ford-produced driverless delivery vehicles. Argo AI, based in Pittsburgh, will supply the software and related infrastructure allowing the delivery vehicles to operate on their own.
It’s known internally by the partners as a “last-mile” delivery service, with the initial startup slated for later this year. Walmart customers will be able to place online orders for groceries and other goods from home, with the delivery process commencing from that point. The last-mile program will start out in limited areas within the Miami, Austin and D.C. markets before expanding more broadly within those metropolitan areas. The partnership is designed to jointly address growing consumer demand for same-day or next-day delivery of everyday items, a practice that was already growing considerably before the pandemic upended everybody’s shopping strategies.