Ford teamed up with Domino’s last year to test out self-driving cars for pizza delivery. And while a hot cheesy pie is certainly delicious, the autonomous technology is now being put to even better use.
On Wednesday, Ford announced that it is now using Postmates delivery service to bring Walmart products to customers’ homes via self-driving Ford vehicles. Ford and Walmart already partner with the delivery service Postmates, making it a smoother (and more obvious) collaboration. Ford works with Argo AI to power the self-driving part of the car.
Starting in the Miami area, where Domino’s is still testing autonomous pizza delivery and Ford has developed a urban self-driving car proving ground, the service will kick off with Walmart employees putting groceries into the car. The self-driving car then takes the bagged items to its destination, wherever someone who ordered items from the Walmart, Postmates, or other delivery app can come out and grab the bags from the trunk.
The cars are clearly marked as Ford self-driving cars as well as “research” vehicles.
A touchscreen on the car window provides instructions and gives access to the trunk. As it’s still in testing, a safety driver will be in the front seat, so don’t expect to see driverless cars roaming around with your groceries.
In a blog post, Ford said by the end of this year autonomous Walmart deliveries will expand to 100 regions in the U.S. at 800 Walmart stores. In 2019, Ford says at least 1,600 Walmart stores will offer self-driving deliveries.
Walmart never shies away from new technology at its stores. It’s previously experimented with a self-serve kiosk, self-driving floor scrubbers, and AI-powered shopping apps. Back in July, Walmart partnered with Waymo, Google’s self-driving car company, for Phoenix users to get autonomous rides to the store to pick up pre-ordered groceries.
While taking a self-driving car to the store is something decidedly different, self-driving grocery delivery isn’t new. Kroger and Nuro kicked things off, and AutoX offers a digital grocery shopping experience delivered by autonomous vehicle in the San Jose, California area.
Ford plans to have a self-driving car service in 2021, but until then it continues to partner with companies to bring users food, groceries, and other products.
Why go to the store when a robot car can bring everything to you?