With the use of a fully autonomous vehicle, deliveries from select Arizona grocery stores will soon be available.
Last week, vehicles with no drivers behind the wheel hit the public roads and are being monitored by humans in another automobile. Following nearly a thousand test runs, deliveries will now be made across Scottsdale in an R1, a vehicle with no steering wheel or seats for humans.
When summoned, the R1 will travel within a one-mile radius of the Fry’s Food grocery store located just east of the Phoenix Zoo. The automobile will travel up to 25 miles per hour, but will stay off of main roads and highways.
The project stems from a partnership between Kroger and tech company Nuro.
“Through this exciting and innovative partnership, we are delivering a great customer experience and advancing Kroger’s commitment to redefine the grocery experience by creating an ecosystem that offers our customers anything, anytime, and anywhere,” said Yael Cosset, Kroger’s chief digital officer.
Previous efforts to utilize fully autonomous vehicles on public streets have been delayed due to technological hurdles and human apprehension.
Earlier this year, Uber removed self-driving cars from Arizona after the death of a woman who was run over by one of the vehicles in Phoenix. The vehicle also had a backup driver at the wheel.
For the past year, a self-driving car spinoff from a Google project, Waymo, has offered free rides in the Phoenix area in robotic vehicles with no back-up driver in order to test the program. Earlier this month, Waymo launched a ride-hailing service for 200 people that includes a human behind the wheel for an extra layer of safety.
In the next step of autonomous vehicle technology, safety is a major concern.
“We built a great relationship with Nuro and safety has always been their top priority,” Giannonatti said. “They have been piloting this for quite some time, so we trust our partners.”
Once customers place orders on their laptop or smartphone, they will receive a message confirming that the groceries are out for delivery. Another message will be sent once the vehicle has arrived and the customer will receive a code that allows them to open the vehicle doors. Customers will pay a flat fee of $5.95 and can request same-day or next-day delivery.