Ford has announced a collaboration with retail-giant Walmart to research and develop autonomous delivery vehicles.
Working with Postmates, Ford and Walmart are exploring how self-driving vehicles can easily deliver goods including groceries, diapers, pet food, and personal care items.
Walmart already has a grocery delivery option where customers can send the retailer their shopping lists. Trained personal shoppers then select all the items listed before Postmates steps in to deliver the goods through their comprehensive delivery network. By the end of this year, the grocery delivery option will be available in 800 stores across 100 metropolitan areas around the country.
Ford and Walmart believe that autonomous vehicles will soon streamline delivery services.
To start the program, Ford will identify what kind of goods it can feasibly transport with autonomous vehicles and will explore different vehicle configurations suited for different jobs. For example, the interior of the vehicle could differ for orders placed from a supermarket or those from a restaurant or dry cleaner. Additionally, the companies will have to work out the best way to deliver perishable goods and how to make multiple delivers on a single trip.
Ford and Walmart will initially use human-operated research vehicles to simulate an autonomous experience and to gather crucial data about consumer preferences.
The American automaker has already completed more than 1000 deliveries for other companies as part of its initial phase of building up a comprehensive self-driving vehicle business.
For most, going to a supermarket is a chore and far from an enjoyable experience. Simply pressing a few buttons online and having everything delivered in a safe and timely fashion by a self-driving car sounds good to us.