Walmart, Argo, and Ford are Testing Delivery AVs in Three Major Cities

Get ready for a lot of hyphens: The world’s largest retailer is rolling out its first-ever multi-city autonomous driving service. 

This week, Walmart announced it will team up with Ford Motors and Argo AI, an autonomous vehicle platform startup, to start testing a self-driving delivery service in three major hubs: Miami, Austin, and Washington, D.C. At least one human safety driver will still be in the loop. 

If this sounds familiar…You might be thinking of the retailer’s past forays into self-driving tech, which are plenty. But the new announcement marks Walmart’s first multi-city, grocery-focused bet on the tech. And these aren’t small markets, either. 

  • Earlier this year, Walmart kicked off a grocery-delivery pilot with Cruise in Scottsdale, Arizona, and a middle-mile delivery pilot with Gatik in Bentonville, Arkansas. Before that, it had also partnered with Nuro and Waymo.

“They’re doubling down, they’re tripling down, and they’re putting their money where their mouth is,” Grayson Brulte, cofounder and president of Brulte & Company, an autonomous mobility consulting firm, told Emerging Tech Brew. 

Looking ahead…Walmart is limiting testing to just one retail location in each of the cities, but if successful, we’ll likely see it expand the offering to multiple stores. And since Walmart is one of the only big-box retailers with a presence in all 50 states, so it has a unique opportunity to combine autonomous delivery with passenger rides, Brulte said. 

“If you can combine grocery with the ability to move people, that’s a very interesting business,” he said. “Walmart’s merely in the first inning of a nine-inning game of where they’re going on their strategy with autonomy.”

As featured in Morning Brew Emerging Tech on September 17, 2021