The pandemic forced thousands of businesses to pivot to embrace delivery services, no-contact delivery, and automated delivery-based systems. Some are even tapping into self-driving car technology enhancements. Autonomous vehicles are showing up in this new way of delivery services more and more. The latest mashup announcement comes when two powerhouse brands merge for AI-powered shopping and delivery. When Walmart and Ford come together, you know it’s going to be huge.
Delivery services Americans are growing to love
When Americans faced life sheltered at home and in need of risk-free ways to shop, eat, and engage, businesses delivered – literally. Restaurants stayed in business by offering delivery services and no-contact pickup. Grocery and retail stores began offering curbside pickup and doorstep delivery, too. Of course, online ordering has always been available before the pandemic. However, since then, nearly every way to connect consumers and their much-needed products is being explored. Even Amazon is sampling drone delivery services. As Amazon describes Prime Air Delivery, any destination within 30 miles and packages less than 5 pounds, can be eligible for drone delivery.
Delivery service companies are booming, too, including the likes of InstaCart and DoorDash. The new demand is surging, serving as the middleman for businesses unable to adopt delivery options and the consumers who desperately want their products. People want the doorstep delivery concierge experience. Ford and Walmart, and others, are already exploring autonomous vehicles as the way forward in this new delivery-driven economy.
Ford and Walmart are teaming up for a new delivery service
It’s official. Automotive News shared the details about the latest collaboration for AI and autonomous vehicle delivery. Walmart has officially tapped Ford and Argo AI to develop a Ford Escape hybrid model with AI autonomous capability to help deliver orders to customers directly.
Imagine being able to order your Walmart essentials online and then having a driverless Ford Escape show up at your house with your items. Ford and Argo AI plan to launch later this year in three key cities: Washington, Austin, and Miami.
Tech Crunch describes how the platform intends to operate. Argo AI’s entirely cloud-based infrastructure will integrate directly with Walmart’s digital platform. Orders and scheduling will then be automatically routed based on the online orders received.
All parties are optimistic about rolling out this new autonomous driver delivery service. In fact, Walmart and Ford already tested out the concept in Florida back in 2018, using simulated self-drivers to help collect the data and adoption rates of such a service among consumers. However, with Argo AI involved now, this latest announcement seems to be more than just a pilot testing program.
Not the first time Ford has dabbled in delivery services
When Ford and Walmart teamed up in 2018 to sample the idea, no one knew what lay ahead with the effects of the pandemic. Ford was already exploring autonomous driving technology with partnerships long before the lockdowns of 2020. For example, Domino’s jumped in with the blue oval company on a few pilot runs for pizza delivery.
Even now, Ford is forging ahead with other plans. This past July, Ford officials announced that with Argo AI, there would be plans to launch a self-driving, rideshare, and ride-hailing service, in conjunction with Lyft. That might be happening before the end of this year, too, in both Miami and Austin. The automaker is currently reported to be working on self-driving vehicles for the commercial services industries as early as next year, too.
Autonomous driving is coming sooner than you think. Additionally, with monster brands like Ford, Walmart, and Argo AI behind the innovations, consumers should be ready to be impressed.