The program is the latest expansion of Walmart's more significant investment into autonomous delivery, with the firm having piloted a similar program with Ford back in 2018. Walmart currently has other pilot programs underway with Gatik AI and Cruise (backed by Ford rival General Motors
The companies said that the collaboration will use Ford Escape hybrids with Argo AI technology for Walmart deliveries in Miami, Florida, Washington D.C. and Austin, Texas in the pilot program.
"We're excited to expand our autonomous delivery efforts in three new markets alongside Argo and Ford," said Walmart senior vice president of last-mile delivery Tom Ward, in a press statement. "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."
Walmart's investments in the burgeoning autonomous delivery market could hand the firm a considerable edge as it seeks to eat into the market shares of major competitors such as Amazon
The firm's newest partnership is the first in the field to feature a multi-city deployment, intended to demonstrate "the potential for autonomous vehicle delivery services at scale." If successful, Walmart's investments could present a considerable payoff for itself and present a significant threat to competitors.
The move is a considerable step forward for Argo AI and Ford's partnership as well, which saw the formation of a separate pilot program testing autonomous ride-hailing vehicles in conjunction with Lyft