Retail giant Walmart, in partnership with auto companies, will test self-driven cars in multiple cities

By: Ruchi Gupta
Ruchi Gupta
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on Sep 15, 2021
  • Walmart announced that it has partnered with automobile manufacturers to test self-driven cars in three cities
  • the retail giant will deliver groceries and other products for which customers have placed orders online.
  • Delivery of groceries ordered to customers is a primary segment of Walmart+, the big-box retailer’s membership

On Wednesday, Walmart Inc (NYSE: WMT) announced that the company had joined hands with Ford Motor and Argo AI as part of the expansion of its self-driving vehicle program. Argo AI, an autonomous car start-up backed by Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F), is learned. As part of the collaboration, Walmart will take advantage of Ford Escape hybrids with Argo AI technology which will be used for deliveries in Miami, the District of Columbia, and Austin, Texas.

Walmart aims to deliver products to customers’ homes with ease and speed

Stating that retail giant aims to provide products and goods to the doorstep of customers with ease and speed, Tom Ward, Walmart U.S. senior vice president of last-mile delivery, in a statement said:

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“We’re excited to expand our autonomous delivery efforts in three new markets alongside Argo and Ford. 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.”

Members get free, unlimited grocery delivered

As part of Walmart+, the big-box retailer’s membership program, launched a year ago, members can get unlimited groceries delivered home for free. This program directly competes with the one offered by Amazon Prime. In addition, while Ford and Walmart initiated a pilot program with self-driving vehicles in 2018, the retail giant is currently operating a self-driving delivery fleet of pilots with Gatik and General Motors Company (NYSE: GM) -backed Cruise. 

A small fleet will be deployed initially

Initially, a small fleet of self-driving vehicles will be run in the three cities. However, the strength of the fleet will be expanded over time. Argo AI, which Ford owns in partnership with Volkswagen, the German automaker, is testing self-driving vehicles in the three cities and others, it is learned. Transportation companies are enthusiastic about commercializing autonomous vehicles as it is the next multitrillion-dollar market for them.

The pandemic has resulted in a spike in online sales. In the last financial year, e-commerce sales grew 79% in the U.S. However, the retail giant has not registered a profit. Thus, the company is looking to embrace cost-effective solutions to deliver products. 

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