In Houston Walmart is in the process of testing a new, autonomous grocery delivery system. For this they’re partnering with Nuro. Only a few, select shoppers will initially be able to opt into this pilot program. All of this was recently announced by Walmart themselves.
Why Walmart is Making These Changes
Walmart has been testing autonomous vehicle capabilities for a while now. In doing so they’ve been able to garner a better understanding of the direction that self-driving technology can take them in. This is something that their SVP of digital operations in the U.S., Tom Ward, has readily admitted. What makes this so interesting is that this announcement comes on the heels of Walmart closing down their same-day delivery service of fresh grocery items by Jet.com in New York because it was too expensive.
Tech Crunch says that this latest test is set to utilize Nuro’s R2 robotic vehicle along with some of Toyota’s autonomous Priuses which are also powered by Nuro’s technology. They continued on to say that each of the compartments in the R2 is capable of holding as many as 6 grocery bags at one time for a total of 12 grocery bags or a lot of groceries.
Ward was happy to use the company’s blog to announce Walmart’s new pilot program in cooperation with Nuro. He believes that Nuro’s vision of using robots to help improve people’s lives is in alignment with Walmart’s mission of helping its customers lead better lives. He feels that through this Houston-based pilot program Walmart will be able to develop, refine, and continue to learn more about how to offer their customers the best end-to-end experience possible. This is something he feels is vital now that Walmart has about 3,100 e-grocery pickup locations and another 1,600 stores delivering groceries – altogether employing over 50,000 personal shoppers.
The History and the Future of Autonomous Grocery Delivery
The highlights from the e-grocery war of 2019 include:
January 2019: Walmart partnered with Udelv in Surprise, AZ to test autonomous grocery delivery service.
March 2019: Kroger ended their autonomous grocery delivery service in Scottsdale, AZ whereby they too partnered with Nuro. Throughout their test run they were able to make over 2,000 deliveries.
October 2019: Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods were offered to Amazon Prime member for free instead of a $14.99 per month charge on $35+ orders.
October 2019: Mercato (an e-grocery ordering and delivery platform) unveiled their subscription service in 25 states. Through this service members could have an unlimited number of same-day deliveries.
Clearly this shows that major players are battling out for a small sliver of the “pie.”
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