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Ford and Walmart to Automate Consumer Goods Delivery

A joint pilot in the Miami area will examine the self-driving potential and public convenience regarding the delivery of groceries and other consumer goods [1,2].

The wave of possible driverless vehicle applications is continuously flooding more markets, this time aiming for the grocery industry. Automaker Ford Motor Co. and multinational retail corporation Walmart agree that “self-driving vehicles have an important role to play in the future of delivery” and will, therefore, collaborate to gather data and intel on its potential of connecting people with their desired groceries. A key enabler is their mutual connection Postmates, a delivery platform which has been used by Walmart in similar non-autonomous purposes and by Ford in an earlier ride-hailing delivery test in Miami. The companies intend to utilize the existing Postmates infrastructure to quickly turn this new autonomous grocery delivery system operational. According to Ford executives, the service is due to launch commercially by 2021 in Miami after the companies have jointly analysed how the service should be efficiently used and what deliveries that are best suited for driverless operation.

Other recent start-ups like UdelvAutoX and Nuro have also shown interest in the lucrative grocery delivery industry and are working on driverless vehicles for this purpose at various sites. 

 

Personal comments

Deliveries at low costs due to the absence of driver salaries can benefit grocery companies like Walmart, whereas automakers (in this case Ford) get the possibility to test their technology in real life situations. However, if public convenience turns out to be beneficial and no regulations are set regarding things like minimum shopping amounts or orders, we could end up in a situation where lots of small and spontaneous grocery orders force an increased number of vehicles on the roads. To avoid further congestion in our cities, these systems should be designed with a focus to more sustainable transportation, rather than offering a more convenient shopping solution.

 

Written by Hampus Alfredsson, RISE Viktoria.

 

Sources

1. 2018-11-20. Ford and Walmart start autonomous vehicle partnership.

2. 2018-11-20. Ford teaming up with Walmart and Postmates on robot deliveries.