It's inevitable that in the future our streets will be crawling with autonomous vehicles of all shapes and sizes. Massive supermarket retailer Kroger is racing ahead to bring autonomous home deliveries to the market, revealing it will begin testing unmanned delivery vehicles later this year in a new partnership with start-up Nuro.
Early in 2018, we saw the launch of Nuro, a company developing an entirely unique, fully autonomous delivery vehicle. The company was founded by two former principal engineers with Alphabet's self-driving subsidiary Waymo. The vehicle is half the size of a passenger car and designed to quietly zip around neighborhoods delivering customer orders.
Now America's largest supermarket retailer is joining forces with Nuro to bring the concept of autonomous delivery to the mass market. Kroger has a massive retail footprint in the United States with nearly 2,800 supermarkets and department stores across 35 states. It is the second largest general retailer in the country, so this partnership is a serious step towards making these unmanned delivery systems a reality.
Details are limited at this stage, but the company suggests it will roll out a pilot test later this year. It's unknown where this will take place but it will utilize Kroger's pre-existing online ClickList ordering system and and Nuro's app. The process is pretty straightforward, place an order for groceries online and they are picked, packed and loaded onto a Nuro vehicle. These small autonomous vehicles will then navigate to their destination where customers meet it at the curb and take receipt of their groceries.
A similar, but much less refined, system was revealed last year in London. This experimental project called CargoPod enjoyed a seemingly successful pilot, but the system proposed by Nuro and Kroger seems much more expansive. At the smaller end of the spectrum we have also seen Starship Technologies' tiny delivery robots rolling out around the world over the past couple of years.
"Unmanned delivery will be a game-changer for local commerce, and together with Kroger, we're thrilled to test this new delivery experience to bring grocery customers new levels of convenience and value," says Dave Ferguson, co-founder of Nuro.
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