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."