Kroger pilots autonomous grocery delivery service with Nuro partnership
America’s largest supermarket chain, Kroger, says it plans to deliver groceries using autonomous vehicles to tackle the challenge of ‘last mile delivery’ - the final step in getting a product to a shopper’s home.
Teaming up with autonomous car maker Nuro, a startup founded by two members of Google's self-driving car team, the Cincinnati-based firm says it will pilot the service in a yet-to-be-named city later this Autumn.
Through the partnership, customers will be able to place same-day delivery orders through Kroger’s ClickList ordering system and Nuro’s app.
Products will then be delivered by Nuro’s fleet of autonomous vehicles.
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To start out, Nuro will use a fleet of self-driving test vehicles with human safety drivers to make the deliveries.
The partnership represents the first application and deployment of Nuro’s hardware and software.
With 2,800 stores in 35 states, Kroger said that the Nuro partnership will “change the status quo of grocery delivery through convenience at a low price”.
“Unmanned delivery will be a game-changer for local commerce, and together with Kroger, we're thrilled to test this new delivery experience to bring grocery customers new levels of convenience and value," said Dave Ferguson, Co-Founder, Nuro.
"Our safe, reliable, and affordable service, combined with Kroger's ubiquitous brand, is a powerful first step in our mission to accelerate the benefits of robotics for everyday life."
The move comes six weeks after Kroger signed a landmark deal with Ocado to use its technology to build automated warehouses throughout the US.
It also bought meal kit company Home Chef in a deal valued at up to $700 million.
"We are incredibly excited about the potential of our innovative partnership with Nuro to bring the future of grocery delivery to customers today," explained Yael Cosset, Kroger's chief digital officer.
"As part of Restock Kroger [an internal change programme], we have already started to redefine the grocery customer experience and expand the coverage area for our anything, anytime and anywhere offering. Partnering with Nuro, a leading technology company, will create customer value by providing Americans access to fast and convenient delivery at a fair price."
Microsoft: Building a secure foundation to drive NASCAR
Microsoft is a key partner of The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) and together they are driving ahead to create an inclusive and immersive new fan experience (FX).
These long-term partners have not only navigated the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic with the use of Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365, but are now looking to a future packed with virtual events to enhance the FX, well beyond NASCAR’S famous Daytona racetrack.
“Together, we've created a secure environment that's allowed for collaboration, but the future is all about the fans”, said Melinda Cook, General Manager for Microsoft South USA Commercial Business, who cited a culture of transparency, passion, adaptiveness, and a growth mindset as to why this alignment is so successful.”
“We've partnered to create a fluid, immersive experience for the users that is supported by a secure foundation with Microsoft in the background. We are focused on empowering and enabling customers and businesses, like NASCAR, to reach their full potential. We do this with our cloud platform which provides data insights and security.”
“Our cloud environment allows NASCAR to move forward with their digital transformation journey while we are in the background,” said Cook who highlights that Microsoft is helping NASCAR
- Empower employees productivity and collaboration
- Improve fan engagement and experience
- Improve environment security and IT productivity
- Improve racing operations
Microsoft Teams, which is part of the Microsoft 365 suite, enabled employees to work remotely, while staying productive, during the pandemic. “This allowed people to provide the same level of productivity with the use of video conference and instant messaging to collaborate on documents. Increased automation also allows the pit crews, IT, and the business to focus on safety, racing operations, and on the fan experience,” said Cook.
“We have started to innovate to create a more inclusive fanbase, this includes using Xbox to give people the experience of being a virtual racer or even leveraging some of the tools in Microsoft Teams to have a virtual ride along experience.”
“These environments are how we create a more inclusive and immersive experience for the fans. We're working on a virtual fan wall which allows people from new locations to participate in these events,” said Cook, who pointed out Microsoft was also helping bring legacy experiences alive from NASCAR’s archives.
“At Microsoft we can take it one level further by letting fans know what it's like to see the pit crew experience, the data and all the behind-the-scenes action. We will continue to improve automation with machine learning and artificial intelligence, from marketing to IT operations to finance to racing operations,” said Cook.
Christine Stoffel-Moffett, Vice President of Enterprise Technology at NASCAR, said: “Microsoft is one of our key partners. They have been instrumental in helping the NASCAR enterprise technology team re-architect our Microsoft systems to ensure an advanced level of security across our environment, contribute to our business outcomes, and focus on fan experience.”