In another move toward automation, Walmart is working with Ford and delivery partner Postmates in a test of driverless vehicle delivery for online grocery orders in Miami.
The retailer said the pilot program would test data and customer reception to the offering, which is one way retailers could attack the costs of online delivery. Earlier this year, Kroger announced a partnership with the robotics company Nuro to test a similar offering at a Fry’s store in Arizona. Walmart is separately working with Waymo to use self-driving cars to bring customers to its stores for pickup, also in Arizona.
“We’re still learning—it’s a pilot—but, we want to make sure we stay on the cutting edge of grocery delivery by exploring what’s new and next,” said Tom Ward, Walmart’s SVP of digital operations, in a blog post.
Ford announced it would test driverless cars in Miami earlier this year, and it is already at work there in a test of pizza deliveries via its vehicles with Domino's. That too is a pilot program, as delivery companies, retailers and automakers are still exploring; Ford said it doesn’t expect to have fully autonomous vehicles in commercial operation until 2021.
Walmart and Postmates announced a partnership in April whereby Postmates drivers would retrieve and deliver online grocery orders for a $9.95 fee per $30 order. Postmates is already providing that service in Miami for Walmart.