Ford, Walmart and Argo AI plan to launch autonomous vehicle delivery services in Miami, Austin, Texas and Washington DC later this year, Ford has announced. The service will focus on last mile deliveries and use Ford vehicles equipped with Argo's AI self-driving system to deliver Walmart orders. Don't count on driverless ghost cars pulling up to your house with groceries, however, as Argo emphasized that the new venture is all about "testing" and "potential."
"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 Argo AI founder and CEO Bryan Salesky. "Working together with Walmart and Ford across three markets, we’re showing the potential for autonomous vehicle delivery services at scale."
Deliveries will be available in those cities "within defined service areas" and expand over time, Ford said. It will focus on next day or same day deliveries in urban cores, helping the players learn about autonomous technology as it relates to deliveries, particularly for logistics and operations.
Ford and Walmart previously announced a collaboration with Uber's PostMates to deliver goods in Miami, and it has been operating with Argo AI in Miami and Washington DC since 2018. All current testing is done with safety drivers at the wheel.
The Walmart delivery effort "marks a significant step toward scaling a commercial goods delivery service," according to Ford. Left unsaid, however, is that level 4 and higher autonomous driving is still a distant dream, even after many years of development. As such, vehicles are nowhere near ready to ply city streets without a safety driver at the wheel.