Ford Motor Company and Walmart Inc. will collaborate to begin designing a grocery delivery system using autonomous vehicles. The system will serve as an addition to an existing collaboration between Walmart and Postmates for delivery.
The Ford Vehicles used will be made to appear like autonomous vehicles in order to test how the customers will possess their groceries without the assistance of a human driver.
As the arrival date of autonomous vehicles comes closer, robo-taxi companies like Uber or Waymo are not the only business giants looking to increase profits. Companies like Walmart are attracted by the possibility of cutting costs and attracting more customers by taking advantage of self-driving vehicles. Experts estimate using autonomous vehicles to deliver groceries to customers would reduce costs to half of what they are currently. Renowned strategy consulting firm McKinsey and Company predicts that 80% of deliveries will be done autonomously in the next 10 years.
This is not the first collaboration Walmart has participated in with an autonomous driving company. Waymo, Google’s self-driving vehicles company, has a partnership with Walmart to offer transportation to online shoppers to a local Walmart store. Ford has also had some experience in partnerships, having tested autonomous delivery of goods with Domino’s Pizza before. Walmart, however, is not the only of its kind attempting to figure out autonomous deliveries. Kroger Co., the largest grocery store chain in the United States, also announced a partnership with Nuro, an autonomous vehicles start-up, to test deliveries using autonomous driving.
“Like us, Walmart believes that self-driving vehicles have an important role to play in the future of delivery… Together, we’ll be gathering crucial data about consumer preferences and learning the best way we can conveniently connect people with the goods they need.” said the director of business development for Ford’s autonomous vehicle business unit, Brian Wolf.
In 2018, investors have been frustrated with Ford’s relatively slow development of their autonomous driving unit compared to competitors Waymo and General Motors. Another competitor, Volkswagen AG, is interested in joining forces with Ford in their efforts to move forward with autonomous vehicles. Ford and Volkswagen have acknowledged they are in discussions for a potential partnership, but Ford CEO Jim Hackett described the expansion of partnerships with VW as a “delicate dance.”