Walmart to Test-Drive Autonomous Grocery Deliveries with Nuro
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA - Walmart isn't new to driverless delivery; tests with Ford in Miami and a partnership with Alphabet's Waymo in Arizona were first announced last year, and another pilot in its homestate this past July. Today, the retail behemoth announced a new partnership with one of Kroger's delivery partners. Walmart has teamed up with Nuro, a robotics company transforming local commerce, to test-run in a new delivery market: Houston, Texas. The pilot is set to bring grocery delivery to Houston-based customers through Nuro’s autonomous vehicles.
“Nuro’s vision of using robotics to improve lives runs parallel with Walmart’s mission of helping customers live better,” stated Tom Ward, SVP, Digital Operations for Walmart U.S. in a press release. “Through the Houston-based pilot, Walmart aims to develop, refine, and continue learning how to offer the best end-to-end customer experience."
The service will use R2, Nuro’s custom-built delivery vehicle that carries only products with no onboard driver or passengers, and autonomous Toyota Priuses, all powered by Nuro’s proprietary self-driving software and hardware.
“Walmart’s dedication to its customers aligns with our desire to help people save time and money while making shopping easier. We are excited to join forces with Walmart to help provide the best possible delivery experience to customers,” said Cosimo Leipold, Nuro’s Head of Partner Relations, in a separate release reported on by Seeking Alpha. “Working alongside Walmart gives us an incredible opportunity to improve our door-to-door operations, serve Walmart’s loyal customers, and continue to integrate and engage with the Houston community.”
For now, Nuro’s driverless vehicles are only available to serve a select group of Walmart customers who have chosen to opt-in to the service, according to Business Insider. The service plans to expand to the general public later in 2020.
“Walmart is committed to serving our customers whenever and however they choose to shop,” stated Ward. “We are excited to work with Nuro and continue to learn as we are incorporating self-driving technology in our delivery options, learning more about our customers’ needs, and evolving Walmart’s future delivery offerings.”
This past year, the company has grown its online grocery footprint to nearly 3,100 pickup locations with deliveries coming from more than 1,600 stores. And with recent developments in the produce sector, it doesn’t seem like grocery delivery will go away anytime soon.
“Our unparalleled size and scale has allowed us to steer grocery delivery to the front doors of millions of families—and design a roadmap for the future of the industry,” Ward continued. “Along the way, we've been test-driving a number of different options for getting groceries from our stores to our customers’ front doors through self-driving technology.”
Which major market will see more autonomous Walmart delivery? Keep reading ANUK as we uncover the latest.