Walmart is partnering with Ford and Argo AI, a self-driving car startup backed by the automaker, to test autonomous delivery of groceries and other items to Walmart customers in three US cities.
The pilots will see the Ford Escapade Hybrid using Argo AI technology to autonomously deliver Walmart products to customers’ homes in Miami, the District of Columbia and Austin, the companies said in a joint statement on September 15.
“We are excited to partner with Argo and Ford to expand our autonomous delivery efforts into three new markets,” Tom Ward, senior vice president of Last Mile Delivery at Walmart US, said in a statement. “This collaboration will further our mission of getting products into our customers’ homes with unparalleled speed and ease, and in turn, will continue to pave the way for autonomous delivery.”
Trials are expected to begin later this year, with companies hoping to fine-tune the ways in which autonomous driving technology can optimize logistics and operations and deliver value to customers.
“Combining Walmart’s retail and e-commerce leadership with Argo and Ford’s self-driving operations in these multiple cities is an important step toward growing a commercial goods delivery service that will ultimately power an already massive business potential. and enable a great consumer experience, Ford Autonomous Vehicles and Mobility Business CEO Scott Griffith said in a statement.
The move is part of Walmart’s broader strategy to evaluate the role of autonomous vehicles in retail. In April, Walmart expanded its collaboration with San Francisco-based self-driving car company Cruise, which the retail giant started working on last year with a delivery pilot in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“Over the years we have been doing a lot to learn more about the role of autonomous vehicles in retail, and we have seen enough to know that it is no longer a question of whether they will be extended, but when,” said Hua John Furner, President and CEO, Walmart US, in an April 15 statement in which he announced that Walmart would invest in Cruise said it “will aid our work toward developing a last mile delivery ecosystem.” Which is fast, low cost, and scalable.”
The newly announced pilot will also boost efforts on the part of Ford and Argo to deploy self-driving vehicles more widely across the United States.
“Argo and Ford are aggressively preparing for large-scale autonomous vehicle operations across the broad footprint of American cities,” Griffith said.
Brian Selsky, co-founder and CEO of Argo AI, told The Verge in an August interview that the pandemic-induced change in customer behavior has strengthened the case for widespread adoption of autonomous delivery solutions.
Sellski told the outlet, “On the merchandise delivery front, we have seen a huge increase in customer habits change, which we knew was happening, but it seems that COVID really accelerated it.” Is.” “It is now an expectation among customers that there is a delivery option for most retail businesses. We knew that was always the case. But it seems to have all intensified.”
Selsky explained that Argo’s product is essentially software that runs on a special computer installed in the vehicle and that interacts with a series of sensors in what he describes as a “safety proposition.”
“The advantage with self-driving technology is that our software stack can drive literally thousands of objects at the same time, and track each individual bike, pedestrian and car that is on a busy surface road, And being able to extrapolate not only what they are doing now, but what they are going to do many seconds into the future,” Selsky said.
“It doesn’t tire, it doesn’t distract, it’s always learning and improving. And that’s where security proposition comes in,” he said.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that automated vehicles have the potential to save lives and reduce injuries, citing statistics showing that 94 percent of serious accidents are due to human error.
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times