Ford, Walmart to Test Self-Driving Delivery Vehicles

Ford Motor Co. and Walmart Inc. are using the Miami area to test the use of self-driving vehicles to delivery groceries and other consumer items.

The carmaker says tests over the next several months will determine consumer preferences regarding robotic deliveries and the best vehicle configurations to provide such services. The company plans to launch commercial operations that use autonomous vehicles by 2021.

Ford has been testing ride-hailing and delivery services using human-operated vehicles in Miami since February. Its partners in those operations include Postmates Inc., which delivers groceries, takeout orders and alcohol in 14 other U.S. cities.

Walmart aims to offer Postmates’ service at 800 stories in 100 U.S. metropolitan areas by late December and double that number by the end of next year. Postmates also is helping set up dispatch and routing techniques for the Ford-Walmart autonomous delivery test.

Separately, Walmart has partnered with Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo unit in Phoenix to test grocery deliveries using Waymo’s self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans.