Walmart announced earlier this month that it plans to pilot grocery delivery using Nuro autonomous vehicles in Houston in the coming months. The self-driving, electric vehicles will bring online grocery orders to customers’ homes. At first the service will be available only to customers who opt in, but plans call for the world’s largest retailer to expand it to the general public later in 2020.
California-based Nuro, a provider of robotics and artificial intelligence, explained that Walmart moves products to 200 million customers across more than 11,000 stores worldwide. The company believes its autonomous vehicles can “act as an extension of this modern supply chain.”
Walmart is conducting a number of tests with autonomous vehicles. They are testing self-driving Ford Transit Connect vans in a logistics pilot to help move products from a Supercenter in Arkansas to a nearby Neighborhood Market. In addition, the company has partnered with Target and Walgreens to test last-mile delivery of small-shipment online orders via the FedEx SameDay Bot, a wheeled, shoulder-high delivery robot.
Other Walmart partners in self-driving pilots include Udelv in Arizona, Ford in Florida, and Waymo in Arizona. The Waymo pilot has autonomous vehicles picking up customers and taking them to stores to collect their orders.
Kroger, the nation’s largest traditional supermarket operator, is also actively testing self-driving vehicles, and last year went live with autonomous delivery in Scottsdale, Arizona.