Car Industry

Nuro launches autonomous Kroger grocery delivery pods in Arizona

Earlier, the program used Priuses, but now, it's all about Nuro's diminutive pod-things.

There's no minimum per order, so if you wanted to order a single bottle of soda just to see the pod in action, you can.

Nuro

Earlier this year, the startup Nuro announced its intention to deliver Kroger groceries autonomously in Arizona. While that's already started, it's now time for the program to rely on Nuro's own autonomous delivery pods.

Nuro announced Tuesday that its unmanned delivery pods have been let loose in Scottsdale, Arizona, as part of its autonomous delivery pilot program with Kroger. The pilot has been running since August, but earlier stages relied on modified Toyota Priuses with vehicle operators. Now the whole shebang will operate without human input, although some Priuses will remain in operation.

Here's how it works. Customers can place delivery orders for groceries from a single Fry's Food Stores location (7770 East McDowell Rd.), and they can choose to have it delivered by self-driving vehicle. The delivery can take place the same day or the next day, and it costs a flat fee of $6 for delivery, with no minimum for the order itself. When the pod arrives, the customer will head outside, plug a code into a screen on the side of the vehicle and retrieve their groceries. Then, the pod will scoot along to the next location.

"Our autonomous delivery pilot with Nuro over the past few months continues to prove the benefit of the flexible and reliable technology," said Yael Cosset, Kroger's chief digital officer, in a statement. "Through this exciting and innovative partnership, we are delivering a great customer experience and advancing Kroger's commitment to redefine the grocery experience by creating an ecosystem that offers our customers anything, anytime, and anywhere."

Thus far, Nuro estimates that it's completed approximately 1,000 grocery deliveries since the program began, and with the addition of Nuro's own dedicated delivery vehicle, that number should rise pretty quickly going forward.