By: Bryan Tropeano
Tech seems absolutely determined to make driverless cars a thing. There’s virtually no delivery company or car company not at least flirting with the idea of cars that drive themselves. Walmart is no exception.
The retail giant just unveiled their plan to test driverless cars for grocery deliveries. The pilot program is being conducted in partnership with autonomous car and robotics company Nuro. The company’s stated mission is “to accelerate the benefits of robotics for everyday life.”
Nuro already employs a large fleet of self-driving vehicles to deliver goods and so this is merely an expansion to include Walmart customers. They are conducting it as a test for now and will include customers who opt into the program in Houston.
The interesting thing about their main vehicle they will be using, the R2, is not that it doesn’t require a driver to make its rounds, it’s that it doesn’t even have seats for drivers or passengers. It’s truly an autonomous vehicle.
Walmart has seen success with their Grocery Pickup and Delivery service, so this is a natural extension of that. That service currently operates in 3,100 pickup locations and delivers from 1,600 brick and mortar stores. Much like how retail shopping moved online, people want that convenience when they shop for groceries.
“Our unparalleled size and scale have allowed us to steer grocery delivery to the front doors of millions of families – and design a roadmap for the future of the industry,” Senior VP of Digital Operations for Walmart U.S., Tom Ward, said in a press statement. “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. We believe this technology is a natural extension of our Grocery Pickup and Delivery service and our goal of making every day a little easier for customers.”
If the pilot program proves successful, we might see it expand across the country, starting with major cities. I wouldn’t hold your breath though. This might take a while as driverless cars continue to work out kinks.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bryan Tropeano is a senior producer and a regular reporter for NewsWatch. He lives in Washington D.C. and loves all things Tech.