American automaker, Ford motors has Wednesday announced it’s heavily investing in self-driving cars,while working with multiple partners to create solutions that will be dependent on autonomous cars.
The company partnered Walmart and Postmates to explore how autonomous cars can delivery everyday goods such as groceries and supplies.
Ford says that a pilot program has been set up to explore how its self-driving cars can complement Walmart’s existing delivery services. Postmate is a partner of both Ford and Walmart so its infrastructure could be used to get this pilot up and running quickly.
The pilot program will initially use human-driven vehicles in order to simulate how a self-driving car will function in such a service. It will provide crucial data to Ford about consumer preferences which will be valuable as it builds out the service for the future in which self-driving cars will be commonplace.
This pilot will take place in the Miami area. Customers will get delivery by Postmates of products ordered at Walmart stores. The companies will be working together to identify which goods can be delivered effectively and this will also enable Ford to explore different vehicle configurations or modifications to make that happen.
“Before self-driving cars can go mainstream, we must get a better sense of how people want to interact with them,” said Tom Ward, senior VP for digital operations at Walmart.
Ford has conducted ride-hailing and delivery test operations since February in Miami, completing more than 1,000 deliveries while working with partners that range from national pizza companies to local dry-cleaning businesses.
One of those partners, delivery platform Postmates, will play a crucial role in the Ford-Walmart collaboration. Walmart has used Postmates and other networks to deliver groceries. Separately, Ford has worked with Postmates on vehicle dispatch and routing systems in its Miami pilot.
Because Ford and Walmart have worked with Postmates, the companies intend to use that infrastructure to get their pilot “up and running quickly,” according to Ford.