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Walmart will begin piloting a program in February that uses driverless vans from autonomous vehicle company Udelv to deliver fresh groceries, TechCrunch reports.
The test will take place in Surprise, Arizona and feature Udelv’s second-generation autonomous delivery van, which is called the “Newton.”
This marks yet another effort by Walmart to use autonomous cars to enhance its online grocery offering:
It’s working with Waymo on a driverless grocery pickup option. This pilot, which is currently being run at a single Arizona Walmart location, lets shoppers build an online grocery pickup order on Walmart.com before being picked up by a Waymo autonomous vehicle. The car takes the shopper to the store to collect their order, and then returns them home. By using driverless technology to facilitate curbside pickup, Walmart is catering to customers who favor pickup or prefer to see their groceries before accepting their orders.
Ford and Walmart are collaborating to explore driverless delivery. The two companies initiated a pilot in Miami-Dade County in November to learn how driverless technology can be used for online grocery delivery in collaboration with Postmates, Walmart’s delivery partner in the area. Small in scale, the point of this pilot is to gather data on how consumers want to interact with driverless cars and how to best bring items to customers.
Walmart’s current online grocery offerings are basic, but testing driverless technology could help it take the lead if the tech comes to fruition. At this time, Walmart only offers grocery delivery, which it expected to make available to 40% of US households by the end of 2018, and curbside pickup, which it planned to make available from around 2,200 stores in the same period. It doesn’t offer a CPG-specific service like Target Restock or Prime Pantry or own a delivery company like Target’s Shipt.
As such, it remains competitive in the online grocery market by virtue of its size and reach, but shares the spotlight with Amazon and others. However, it’s off to a running start with its work on applying driverless technology to online grocery.
While its pilots may be small in scale now, the data that they yield could propel Walmart to a serious advantage in online grocery by cutting labor costs and boosting efficiency if and when autonomous vehicles become more mainstream.
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Source:: Business Insider