Ford and Argo Team Up With Walmart, Postmates on Self-Driving Delivery

By Amanda Weston

Ford and Walmart envision a world in which products are delivered straight to customers' doors ー no driver required.

The two titans of industry are teaming up along with Postmates to explore delivery via self-driving cars in Miami-Dade County, Fla.

Artificial intelligence company Argo AI is a crucial player in that partnership with Ford ($F) and Walmart ($WMT)ー and will create the technology built into the cars to navigate busy streets and any potential obstacles.

According to Argo's CEO, safety is the company's chief priority.

“What we’re aiming to build is a safe and confident driver,” Bryan Salesky told Cheddar's Tamara Warren at the kick-off event in Miami on Wednesday.

Salesky said the company is putting safety first by designing vehicles that can predict when objects on the road may pose a danger.

“It has the same type of anticipation that you might have as a human driver,” Salesky said. “That’s a really key component of how we’re designing a system that I think will make for a really great customer experience.”

Even in unpredictable scenarios, the cars are still able to respond. The CEO said the car “knows what its capabilities are.”

“It will always, always, always preserve safety as number one,” Salesky said. “So if it doesn’t quite know how to predict what might happen, it will slow down and it will cautiously proceed through whatever the situation might be.”

Argo A.I. currently has about a dozen cars in Miami, but the company’s goal is to have 100 by the end of the year.

As for what constitutes progress, Salesky said he doesn't calculate it in miles.

“What we look at is the interaction,” Salesky said. “The number of interactions that this vehicle encounters with other objects on the road is really, really large per mile in Miami. So we’re looking at the complexity of the environment and making sure that it can handle all those really busy city streets. That’s the marker of progress for us.”

While Argo A.I. aims for that goal, it's gathering customer feedback and building different modes and features in the car that can cater to individual customers’ preferences.

"[People] become at ease remarkably quickly once they see that ‘oh, the car is actually reasoning about more things than I do as a human driver,’” Salesky said. “Once we do that, I find that prospective customers become really engaged and excited about the technology.”

For full interview click here.

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