Kroger Is Partnering with Nuro to Test a Driverless Grocery Delivery Service
The next step in the driverless car revolution could be a vehicle that delivers groceries to your front door.
America’s largest grocer, Kroger Co., announced today that it’s partnering with startup company Nuro to test a delivery service using tiny robotic cars. Kroger said the service would launch by year’s end.
Possible testing locations include California and Arizona. The delivery vehicles will initially hold human “drivers” to ensure safety. These drivers won’t be unloading groceries, though — Kroger and Nuro want customers to get used to how the service will work when drivers are no longer needed.
The Cincinnati-based supermarket chain already offers grocery delivery via human driver at about 40% of its 2,800 stores in 35 states around the U.S.
With Kroger’s new service, customers would order groceries from a mobile app. Once the order is filled, it would be loaded into a driverless car and dispatched to customers’ locations. Customers would then head out the curb or driveway and access their groceries inside the car by entering a code.
Kroger already offers ClickList, a service, which allows customers to buy groceries online and pick them up outside the store without having to leave their vehicles. Since Kroger already deploys many of its employees throughout store aisles to fill ClickList orders, it would be relatively simple for the grocer to adapt that system to driverless deliveries.
Kroger’s partner, Nuro, is run by engineers who previously worked on Google’s autonomous car project, now called Waymo. Earlier this year, Nuro introduced a small prototype driverless car specifically designed for last-mile delivery service.
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