TECHNOLOGY

New ‘mobile store’ delivery service hitting the road

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

The driverless grocery delivery market is getting crowded.

Self-driving car startup AutoX just got the green light to launch a grocery delivery and mobile store pilot in San Jose, California. Through a partnership with fresh produce e-commerce company GrubMarket.com, AutoX will enable consumers to order and receive fresh produce and other goods that will be delivered by self-driving cars.

Here’s how the service will work: Once customers download the AutoX app, they order fresh perishables, vegetables and fruits and other items. Groceries are preserved in a temperature-controlled driverless car. When the AutoX vehicle arrives, the window rolls down, and customers pick up their order.

The autonomous cars feature high resolution camera sensing that triggers artificial intelligence used to safely detect small objects, such as kids and pets. It also enables the vehicle to envision longer distances compared to other autonomous driving technologies that rely on laser-based detection systems.

“We are thrilled to combine the fresh and affordable grocery experience of GrubMarket with the ingenuity and delivery capabilities of AutoX,” said GrubMarket CEO Mike Xu. “We look forward to providing our customers with even more convenient delivery options.”

Other retailers are also dipping their toe into the self-driving delivery waters. In August, Kroger Co. formally launched a self-driving grocery delivery pilot at a Fry’s Food location in Scottsdale, Arizona. The launch comes several weeks after Kroger announced its partnership with tech startup Nuro, the maker of a fully unmanned vehicle.

Walmart is also putting its own spin on driverless cars. Through a partnership with Waymo, Google’s self-driving car project, Walmart is piloting Waymo vehicles to transport customers to and from a local store to pick up their groceries. The program, which is conducted out of one Walmart store in Chandler, Arizona, is being tested among a group of Waymo’s 400 daily users.

Pilot customers place an online grocery pickup order, and Walmart’s personal shoppers fulfill the order based on their designated pickup times. Waymo then transports customers to and from pickup.

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