Walmart is planning to launch a pilot for autonomous delivery in Scottsdale, AZ early next year, through a partnership with Cruise, which is majority owned by General Motors, the latest wrinkle in the ongoing push toward driverless delivery.
Tom Ward, SVP of Customer Product for Walmart US, said in a blog post announcing the pilot that customers can place their order from a local Walmart store and have the items delivered to their door contact free via Cruise. No other details were provided, although The Verge noted that Cruise has maintained a fleet of five autonomous Chevy Bolts in Phoenix since 2016.
“You’ve seen us test drive with self-driving cars in the past, and we’re continuing to learn a lot about how they can shape the future of retail,” Ward said. “We’re excited to add Cruise to our lineup of autonomous vehicle pilots as we continue to chart a whole new roadmap for retail.”
Ward noted that Cruise was the only self-driving car company whose entire fleet of all-electric vehicles is powered with 100% renewable energy, in line with Walmart’s plans to reach zero emissions by 2040.
He also took the opportunity to tout the fact that Walmart’s two-hour Express delivery service, launched in April, has since grown to over 2,800 stores, reaching more than 65% of American households, after a 100-store pilot. The service costs an additional $10.
Last year, Walmart began a test of self-driving vehicles in Houston for grocery delivery, a combination of Nuro’s own fleet as well as some specially equipped Toyota Priuses powered by Nuro. Kroger had also conducted a test of self-driving delivery with Nuro in Scottsdale, the unofficial capital of autonomous pilots, between August 2018 and March 2019, making more than 2,000 trips.
A year ago, FedEx got less than a warm welcome when its Roxo delivery robots hit the streets of Manhattan as part of a promotional event.