Ford has been testing its self-driving car program in the Miami area since February of 2018, an area where Walmart's grocery delivery service, which uses personal shoppers to select and deliver purchases, has been extremely popular. Ford and Walmart will use Postmates' systems which are already in place to facilitate the ordering and routing for customers. Both companies already work with Postmates independently, so it's a natural collaboration.
Ford gives no definite timeline in its statement as to when the pilot program will be available for customers to use. Beyond that it will "be working closely with Walmart to understand its operations, identify what goods we can feasibly transport, and pinpoint any issues that may need to be addressed to successfully deliver orders via self-driving vehicles."
It's worth noting that these cars aren't actually autonomous. Like its partnership with Domino's, Ford's "self-driving" vehicles in this program are actually manned at all times. However, the windows are darkened to prevent users from seeing the human inside. The goal of this bamboozle is to study how humans would react to and work with self-driving cars, rather than fleshing out the actual autonomous delivery side of things. That bit will likely come later.
We're curious how Ford plans to create efficiencies in this delivery system. Will each self-driving car take only one delivery at a time, or will it take multiple orders on a single trip and calculate an efficient route for itself? If it takes multiple orders, how will it divide the space inside the vehicle so that each customer only has access to their order and not others?
It's a neat idea, and we're looking forward to seeing how it is implemented and possibly rolled out beyond Miami.