Ford announced it is exploring how grocery delivery can help expand access to fresh food and other retail items in Miami-Dade County, where it is currently testing its self-driving business operations.
The automaker said it's teaming up with Walmart to look at how self-driving vehicles can deliver goods such as groceries, diapers, pet food and personal care items. Enabled by Postmates delivery as a service, the companies set up a pilot program that explores how the self-driving vehicles can complement Walmart’s existing delivery offerings.
The grocery delivery option uses the company’s personal shoppers to fulfill through Postmates and its other delivery networks. The companies say that customers have responded positively to the service, to date. By the end of this year, the option is expected to be available in 800 stores across 100 metropolitan areas around the country. Next year, the number of stores offering delivery service is expected to double.
The companies plan to use research vehicles, designed to simulate an autonomous experience, to gather data about consumer preferences and learn the best way they can conveniently connect people with the goods they need.
Ford will be working closely with Walmart to understand its operations, identify the goods they can feasibly transport, and pinpoint any issues that may need to be addressed to successfully deliver orders via self-driving vehicles. They say they will explore different vehicle configurations or modifications that may be necessary to meet people’s needs, such as those needed to accommodate perishable goods or for scenarios where vehicles need to make multiple deliveries in a single trip.