Kroger plans to deploy a fully driverless delivery service.
Kroger is one of the largest supermarket chains in the US, and it has announced that it is teaming up with Nuro, a two-year-old company founded by former members of Google’s self-driving car team, with the goal of launching autonomous delivery vehicles. But first, it will roll out a pilot in a yet-to-be-named US city this autumn. Kroger will initially use self-driving test vehicles with human safety drivers.
As for Nuro, it makes driverless vehicles, called R1, equipped with cameras, radar, and laser sensors. Kroger will use them for its deliveries. The process will work like this: Once a customer places their order through the Nuro app or Kroger’s online platform, Kroger workers will load the items into the R1's compartments, and then the vehicle will drive autonomously to the customer, who tracks it via Nuro or Kroger.
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Once it arrives, the customer needs to meet the R1 vehicle and use a PIN code to retrieve the delivery. This is clearly a huge score for Nuro, a little-known startup compared to a chain like Kroger, which has about 2,800 stores across 35 states and serves around 9 million daily.
Keep in mind Nuro said that "R1" is not its vehicle's final name. Also, we think it's pretty cute-looking. Check it out in the video above.