TECHNOLOGY

Kroger’s driverless delivery goes live in Houston

BY Marianne Wilson

Following a successful pilot in Scottsdale, Arizona, The Kroger Co. has brought its self-driving grocery delivery service pilot to a second market.

The nation’s largest grocery retailer has launched the service in Houston, starting with its store on South Post Oak Road, and followed by its Buffalo Speedway location later this spring, for a total of four local ZIP codes. The Texas hub is the second market for the service, which is done in partnership with Nuro, a robotics company based in Mountain View, Calif.

Similar to the pilot in Scottsdale, Kroger and Nuro are starting the service with Nuro’s manual and self-driving Toyota Prius fleet. It will introduce the next generation of Nuro’s custom driverless vehicle later this year.

To use the service, customers shop on Kroger’s e-commerce site or its app, and place orders based on slot availability. The orders can be scheduled for same-day or next-day delivery by Nuro’s fleet of manual and self-driving vehicles. The service has a flat fee of $5.95 flat fee, with no minimum order.

Kroger piloted the self- autonomous grocery delivery service at a Fry’s Food location in Scottsdale, in August 2018.

“We’re excited to launch our autonomous vehicle delivery pilot with Nuro in Houston, a leading city that embraces innovation and technology,” said Marlene Stewart, Kroger’s Houston division president. “Kroger continues to redefine the customer experience, and we’re thrilled to provide our customers with a new way to have their groceries delivered.”

Autonomous vehicles have been a leading trend in online delivery during 2019. In the past few months, Amazon and FedEx have launched pilots of self-navigating delivery robots.

In the grocery arena, Walmart started testing grocery delivery with autonomous vans from Udelv in January, while Stop & Shop is launching a pilot of self-delivery vehicles from Robomart that bring a selection of shoppable grocery goods to the customer’s door. Furthermore, on-demand delivery service DoorDash is piloting the use of autonomous vehicles from GM to deliver meal and grocery orders in San Francisco.

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