Kroger’s driverless grocery delivery program moves ahead

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 19th December 2018

KROGER is progressing its driverless grocery delivery pilot by moving this week to remove humans from the vehicles and going full-on with a self-driving “car”.

Since August, the US grocery retailer has been working with robotics company Nuro, testing grocery delivery via autonomous vehicles in Arizona

The initial test-run completed close to one thousand deliveries. However, those were all done in self-driving Toyota Priuses, which still had a human in the car, presumably for safety reasons.

On Monday, Kroger removed the humans from the self-driving delivery model and replaced the Priuses with a new vehicle – Nuro’s autonomous R1. The R1 is a pod-looking vehicle that can only carry cargo with literally no place for a driver.

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The two companies are calling this pilot expansion “the first-ever unmanned delivery service available to the general public,” which appears to be true, but it’s certainly not the only self-driving delivery service tests being run in the US right now.  Online grocer Farmstead has been running autonomous delivery trials and AutoX has been running its own driverless delivery tests.

Kroger and Nuro’s approach is a little different as it lies somewhere between traditional delivery cars and the newer, smaller-scale rover-style robots.

As noted earlier, the R1 is a completely unmanned vehicle and only transports goods. It travels at less than 40kmph and is half the width of a regular car.

This means it can be more nimble than a traditional full-size car when navigating traffic and pedestrians, but it also can’t travel as fast, limiting the delivery radius.

Kroger and Nuro are still in the midst of testing, and full autonomous delivery vehicles are still a ways off as the technology needs to improve and city and state regulations need to be developed to keep up with the technology.

But at the moment customers can place delivery orders immediately, for delivery 7 days a week via a website or mobile app. Grocery orders can be scheduled for same-day or next-day delivery by Nuro’s fleet of self-driving vehicles and cost a $US5.95 flat fee; no minimum order.

The Kroger Co., or simply Kroger, is an American retailing company founded by Bernard Kroger in 1883 in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is the United States’s largest supermarket chain by revenue, the second-largest general retailer and the seventeenth largest company in the United States. Kroger is also the third-largest retailer in the world and the third largest private employer in the United States. Kroger is ranked #17 on the Fortune 500 rankings of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.