After successfully conducting trials for a number of years, Walmart is finally ready to go live with a driverless delivery service.
The service will start later this year and initially run in Austin, Miami and Washington, D.C., using Ford Escapes controlled by Argo AI's self-driving system. The system, which is ranked at Level 4 on the SAE scale of self-driving capability, uses a combination of sensors for guidance, with the primary ones being cameras and lidar.
Walmart customers order their items online after which a Walmart staff member places the items in the back of the self-driving vehicle. The vehicle then drives to a customer's home and sends a notification to a smartphone using Argo AI's cloud-based infrastructure.
The service will be available to customers within a defined service area in each of the three initial cities. These service areas will expand over time, including to more cities.
Argo AI is also testing its self-driving vehicles in Detroit, Palo Alto and Pittsburgh, meaning the Walmart service could be expanded to these cities next. Argo AI said its self-driving vehicles will also be added to the Lyft network in Miami before the year is out, meaning Lyft users will be able to ride in one shortly.
Walmart has previously worked with Argo AI rivals Waymo and Cruise in testing driverless deliveries. The retailer has also invested in Cruise with a view to using the company's technology for driverless deliveries.