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Ford, Walmart to collaborate on designing automated-vehicle delivery



MIAMI (Reuters) – Ford Motor Co ( FN ), Walmart Inc ( WMT.N ) and delivery service Postmates Inc intends to collaborate to design a service for delivering groceries and other goods to Walmart customers that could someday use autonomous vehicles, the companies said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: A Ford Fusion Hybrid, Level 4 autonomous vehicle, used by Ford's Motor and Domino's Pizza to test a self-driving pizza delivery car in Michigan, is displayed during Press Days at the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center in Detroit, Michigan, US, Jan.16, 2018. REUTERS / Rebecca Cook / File Photo

The project is the latest to grow out of Ford's broader effort to develop business processes. Ford was working with San Francisco-based Postmates to develop delivery services that could employ automated vehicles.

The Walmart pilot, who wants to take place in the Miami area, initially wants to use human-driven vehicles to drive a self-driving vehicle, Ford said. 2021.

Ford and its partners are using it as a testing ground for automated delivery service ideas and automated vehicle technology.

The new pilot project wants to offer customers postmates of goods ordered at Walmart stores. Brian Wolf, executive of Ford's autonomous vehicle unit, wrote in a blog post that the company wants to work over the next "couple of months" to figure out well-behaved, especially perishable groceries.

"Tom Ward, Walmart's senior vice president for digital operations, said in a statement on Thursday.

That could require new designs or equipment for vehicles, Wolf wrote. Among the Challenges Ford has said it is working on an on-board storage system.

Postmates, according to its website, operates in 385 U.S. cities, as well as Mexico. It offers delivery from brick-and-mortar restaurants and stores.

Walmart is competing with online retailer Amazon.com ( AMZN.O ) and other rivals to cut the cost of delivering goods over what industry executives call "the last mile" to customers who order online.

Replacing human delivery systems with robotic systems could reduce last-mile delivery costs. Still waiting for regulations that could help protect automated vehicle owners or manufacturers from liability claims. General Motors Co ( GM.N ), which is cruising at its GM Cruise.

Ford has emphasized commercial uses of autonomous vehicle technology unit.

Volkswagen AG ( VOWG_p.DE ) about a possible investment in its self-driving vehicle unit. No deal has been announced.

In July, Ford said it would create a new business unit, Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC, to house its self-driving vehicle operations. The automaker said it would invest a total of $ 4 billion in the unit through 2023.

Reporting by Joe White; Editing by Leslie Adler

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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