Walmart, Ford and Postmates partner to test autonomous grocery delivery

by Talk Business & Politics staff ( 88 views 

Walmart continues to look for ways to test the latest technologies that can enhance shopper convenience. The latest example is underway in Miami-Dade County, Fla. Ford, announced Wednesday (Nov. 14) it’s working with Walmart and final-mile delivery service Postmates to deliver groceries from Walmart via autonomous vehicles.

Ford said the collaboration will explore how self-driving vehicles can deliver many everyday goods such as groceries, diapers, pet food and personal care items. This test is enabled by Postmates as a service. Ford said it was able to quickly set up a pilot program that explores how its self-driving vehicles can complement Walmart’s existing delivery offerings. Given that Postmates is already a partner of Ford and Walmart, the companies were able to utilize Postmates’ infrastructure to get the offering up and running quickly.

This test will take place over the next few months and Ford said it hopes to gain insights for what could be more mainstream uses of autonomous vehicles. Ford said it has already completed more than 1,000 deliveries in other tests, and the Florida pilot with Walmart will allow the company to do further research about consumer preferences and learn the best way to conveniently connect people with the goods they need.

“Naturally, orders from a supermarket will tend to be larger and more varied than orders from a restaurant or dry cleaner,” said Brian Wolf, director autonomous vehicles at Ford. “So we’ll be exploring different vehicle configurations or modifications that we could make to meet people’s needs — especially to accommodate perishable goods or scenarios where our vehicles end up making multiple deliveries on a single trip.”

Walmart is testing an autonomous chauffer service with Waymo in the Phoenix, Ariz., market where a Waymo car picks up a consumer and drives them to Walmart store to retrieve their online grocery order.