Walmart expands self-driving tests with Cruise pilot

Date : 10 November 2020

Stewart Samuel

Program Director - Canada

Walmart is a partnering with GM-owned self-driving car company, Cruise, to pilot grocery deliveries in Arizona.

Nuro also working with Kroger in the Houston market

Walmart has undertaken several pilots in this space, including programmes with Nuro in Houston, Gatik in Bentonville and Udelv in Surprise, Arizona. It has also worked with Ford and Waymo, Google’s self-driving project. Cruise is relatively unique in that it is the only self-driving car company to operate an entire fleet of all-electric vehicles powered with 100% renewable energy. This supports the retailer’s target of zero emissions by 2040.

Source: Walmart

Active in the self-driving space

The pilot will start next year. Customers will be able to place an online order from their local store and have it delivered contact-free via a Cruise vehicle. Self-driving vehicles could be an important component in improving the profitability of grocery ecommerce. Last-mile delivery represent a significant proportion of overall costs. Retailers in North America are currently testing several fulfillment and delivery models as they look to reduce channel costs. These include hyper-local robotic fulfillment, third-party crowd-sourced delivery platforms and shared centralised distribution models. For many retailers, this has taken on with added urgency as grocery ecommerce growth has accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scaling up its grocery ecommerce business

Walmart’s pilot builds on other self-driving initiatives the retailer has been testing as it scales up its grocery ecommerce business. It currently offers grocery pickup from over 3,500 locations and delivery available from more than 2,800 stores. Walmart will focus on learning more about the logistics of introducing this additional delivery option, the impact on operations and understanding how else the technology can be used.

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