Walmart (NYSE:WMT) has indicated that it will pilot grocery delivery in Houston using autonomous vehicles as from next year.
Walmart to use driverless vehicles in making deliveries
The company has partnered with the robotics company Nuro for the pilot program. Nuro uses autonomous vehicles to make deliveries to customers. In the test program, Nuro driverless vehicles will deliver the retailer’s online grocery orders to a closed group of customers opting for the service.
The delivery service will involve R2 which is a custom-built autonomous delivery car that carries good only. Also, they will use the autonomous Toyota Priuses to make delivery of groceries. The goal of the pilot program is to learn how the autonomous delivery of groceries can work. Equally, it will establish how the service can be enhanced to server Walmart customers in a better way.
The robotics company has been developing self-driving and unmanned vehicles designed for the delivery of goods. The autonomous vehicles comprise of two compartments where up to six bags of groceries can fit in each compartment.
So far the Nuro has raised over $1 billion from various partners such as SoftBank, Gaorong Capital, and Greylock Partners to enhance their developments. In March this year, the company raised around $940 million from SoftBank Vision Fund.
The growing use of autonomous vehicles in grocery delivery
Already in Houston, retailers are using the Nuro driverless vehicles to make deliveries. For instance, Kroger (NYSE: K) customers in select zip codes can get home deliveries by the vehicles for $5.95. Nuro piloted its R1 driverless vehicle in Houston in March last year in Phoenix before moving it this year with Kroger to Houston. It began with the Toyota Prusies and will test its second-generation robot with Kroger Walmart and Dominos next year.
Also, another company Starship Technologies which specializes in autonomous deliveries has stated that its robots can make deliveries of goods within a radius of four miles. In August the company had indicated that it had already completed over 100,000 deliveries using autonomous vehicles.