Today Ford’s Director of Business Development for its Autonomous Vehicles division Brian Wolf said that the automaker is partnering with Walmart and Postmates on a self-driving goods delivery project. Ford is already collaborating with a number of national and local companies to understand how to improve upon goods delivery through the use of self-driving vehicles for delivering tacos, dry cleaning, floral arrangements, etc.
“Now, it’s time to explore how grocery delivery can help expand access to fresh food and other retail items for people all over the country, including in Miami-Dade County, where we’re currently putting our comprehensive self-driving business operations to the test,” said Wolf. “This is why we’re teaming up with Walmart. Through this collaboration, we are exploring how self-driving vehicles can deliver many everyday goods such as groceries, diapers, pet food and personal care items. Enabled by Postmates delivery as a service, we were able to quickly set up a pilot program that explores how our self-driving vehicles can complement Walmart’s existing delivery offerings.”
Postmates was already a partner of Ford and Walmart so the companies were able to get a prototype of the project up and running rather quickly. And Walmart’s customers have responded positively to its grocery delivery option. This option relies on Walmart’s trained personal shoppers to select fresh produce and groceries for orders that are fulfilled by Postmates and other delivery companies. This option is expected to be available in 800 stories across 100 metro areas around the country.
“Over the next couple of months, we’ll be working closely with Walmart to understand its operations, identify what goods we can feasibly transport, and pinpoint any issues that may need to be addressed to successfully deliver orders via self-driving vehicles,” added Wolf. “Naturally, orders from a supermarket will tend to be larger and more varied than orders from a restaurant or dry cleaner. 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.”