Walmart drives closer to autonomous delivery with Ford, Argo AI deal

Ford and Argo AI, which are already collaborating on an autonomous vehicle pilot for rideshare with Lyft, are adding a package delivery pilot to the mix with a separate agreement with Walmart.

The three companies will begin autonomous vehicle delivery service in Miami, Austin, Texas, and Washington. The service will use Ford (NYSE: F) vehicles equipped with Argo AI’s self-driving technology.

“Our focus on the testing and development of self-driving technology that operates in urban areas where customer demand is high really comes to life with this collaboration,” said Bryan Salesky, founder and CEO of Argo AI. “Working together with Walmart and Ford across three markets, we’re showing the potential for autonomous vehicle delivery services at scale.”

Ford and Argo have been collaborating for several years on tests in Pittsburgh, Detroit and Palo Alto, California. In addition, the companies have been operating in Miami and Washington since 2018 and in Austin since 2019.

Walmart (NYSE: WMT) previously tested self-driving delivery with Ford in Miami in 2018.

“We’re excited to expand our autonomous delivery efforts in three new markets alongside Argo and Ford,” said Tom Ward, senior vice president of last-mile delivery for Walmart U.S. “This collaboration will further our mission to get products to the homes of our customers with unparalleled speed and ease, and in turn, will continue to pave the way for autonomous delivery.”

The new service will roll out later this year, the companies stated, and will expand over time.

“Argo and Ford are aggressively preparing for large-scale autonomous vehicle operations across a broad footprint of U.S. cities,” said Scott Griffith, CEO of Ford’s 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.”

Read: Ford to run self-driving cars on Lyft network

Read: What does Walmart’s GoLocal service mean for last-mile delivery?

Argo’s technology will integrate with Walmart’s online ordering platform for order routing and package delivery scheduling. Groceries and other items will be eligible for the service.

In July, Ford and Argo announced an agreement with Lyft (NASDAQ: LYFT) to deploy self-driving ride-hailing vehicles in Miami this year and in Austin in 2022. Safety drivers will be in the vehicles, which will operate on the Lyft network. Lyft users in the operational areas of the vehicles will be able to choose a Ford self-driving vehicle if available. The initial deployments will be used to work through operational issues as the three companies work to finalize an agreement that will place more than 1,000 autonomous vehicles into Lyft’s network over the next five years.

Late last month, Walmart announced it would launch Walmart GoLocal, an offering that allows small and midsize businesses to leverage the company’s nationwide logistics network, including drone delivery options as they grow. The platform effectively commercializes Walmart’s delivery operations, allowing it to offer its logistics services to businesses so that they can scale using the company’s nationwide coverage at competitive pricing. The rollout of GoLocal comes less than a month after Walmart announced it would begin selling its e-commerce technology to small and midsize businesses.

Click for more Modern Shipper articles by Brian Straight.

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