Walmart Teams Up with Cruise to Pilot All-Electric Self-Driving Delivery

U.S. retailer Walmart and automated vehicle firm Cruise are collaborating to test the delivery of groceries in Scottsdale, Arizona. Under the scheme, consumers would be able to put an order from their nearest Walmart store and send it to one of Cruise’s stand-alone, Chevy Bolt electric vehicles. Although cars can work individually, there will still be a human safety operator behind the wheel. The collaboration is part of the retailer’s overall automated vehicle testing and efforts to consider the potential role of technology in the retail industry.

Walmart’s statement read as, “We’re cruising over to Scottsdale, Arizona, to rev up a new pilot with a self-driving car company, Cruise. What’s unique about Cruise is they’re the only self-driving car company to operate an entire fleet of all-electric vehicles powered with 100% renewable energy, which supports our road to zero emissions by 2040.”

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While Tom Ward, Walmart’s senior vice president of customer product in the U.S., said, “Technology that has the potential to not only save customers time and money but also be helpful to the planet is technology we want to learn more about.” He said this pilot supports the retailer’s ‘road to zero emissions by 2040.’

The initiative unveiled is the newest illustration of Walmart finding opportunities to improve pick-up and delivery options. In April, Walmart introduced a service named Express, which delivers orders in two hours or less for an extra $10 in comparison to the regular shipping price. Initially piloted at 100 outlets, Express is now expanded to more than 2,800 sites.

Walmart has already worked with a number of autonomous car developers, including Waymo, to explore how technologies could potentially be utilized on a commercial scale.

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In 2019, the retailer reached an agreement with startup Udelv to test the usage of autonomous vans to supply online grocery orders to consumers in Surprise, Arizona. Autonomous delivery Nuro launched a pilot program with Walmart in Houston in 2020. The retail giant took part in a pilot with Postmates and Ford in the Miami-Dade county.

Last year, the company tapped AV startup Gatik to carry orders from Walmart’s main warehouse to its neighborhood shops in Bentonville, Arkansas.

In comparison, Cruise is well recognized for its attempt to operate a driverless robotaxi service in San Francisco, and the firm has also dabbled in delivery.

As Walmart expands its portfolio of automated cars, the platform has also been evaluated by other retailers. CVS and UPS, respectively, tapped Nuro and Waymo for their self-driving car delivery capabilities. On the other side, Amazon revealed that it was testing its own shipping robots in January 2019.

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