Nuro came out of nowhere earlier this year with a clever little driverless delivery van concept. Now, it's teamed up with America's largest supermarket chain to see how these vans can fare in the real world.
Nuro and Kroger announced today that the two companies will test driverless grocery deliveries later this year, likely starting in the fall. Regulatory approval is still in the works.
It'll be a simple process -- shoppers can place same-day delivery orders through Kroger's ClickList ordering system and Nuro's app. Then, the order will arrive in one of Nuro's R1 delivery vans.
This is the first time Nuro's hardware and software will be deployed for a public trial., the R1 is an electric driverless vehicle that weighs less than a ton and is designed with maximum cargo space in mind. Never mind the windshield up front -- that's basically an aesthetic decision to make the vehicle seem at least somewhat familiar. As of January, the company raised $92 million in venture capital across two funding rounds.
"Unmanned delivery will be a game-changer for local commerce, and together with Kroger, we're thrilled to test this new delivery experience to bring grocery customers new levels of convenience and value," said Dave Ferguson, co-founder of Nuro, in a statement. "Our safe, reliable, and affordable service, combined with Kroger's ubiquitous brand, is a powerful first step in our mission to accelerate the benefits of robotics for everyday life."
Amazon is definitely playing a part in Kroger's decision. After the company purchased Whole Foods, it started and subsequently expanded itsfor Prime members, with more markets slated to receive the service in the future. Grocery delivery is expensive, because it requires human overhead to deliver the groceries, so Kroger seeking out methods of cost reduction (such as removing the human element entirely) shouldn't come as a surprise.