Kroger Testing Expansion of ClickList with Robot Cars
One of the latest conveniences for grocery shopping, ClickList, enables a consumer to order online, drive to the market and pick up groceries already bagged and delivered to the car to take home. In another effort to further improve convenience, Kroger is testing a way of getting its food to consumers that might change the way families “shop.”
Dave Monk wrote the original story for WCPO TV on the company’s planned partnership with an autonomous vehicle company.
Kroger will conduct a pilot test with Mountain View, California-based Nuro to deliver groceries with fully autonomous vehicles. Kroger will announce plans for this fall soon. The partnership with Nuro follows a blockbuster announcement last month that Kroger will develop up to 20 robot-powered warehouses in a partnership with Ocado, a British online grocer. Kroger is also acquiring the Chicago-based meal kit company, Home Chef.
“If you have a sick kid at 1 o’clock in the morning, it can make a delivery,” Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen told reporters at Kroger’s annual meeting Thursday. “We’re there for the customer however they want us to be there for them.”
Nuro was founded in 2016 by the principal engineers of Google’s self-driving car project (now Waymo). Dave Ferguson and Jiajun Zhu have devoted their careers to robotics and machine learning, They founded Nuro in 2016 to harness the power of robotics and artificial intelligence to solve new challenges at a global scale.This will be the first application and deployment of Nuro’s hardware and software for commercial use.
“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. “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.”
And Kroger particularly stood out because of its smart shelf technology and partnership with Ocado around automated fulfillment centers.
This will surely lead to other markets using home delivery AI vehicles, such as florists, pharmacies and fast food restaurants.
“With the pilot, we’re excited about getting more experience interacting with real customers and understanding exactly what they want,” Ferguson said. “The things they love about it, the things they don’t love as much. As an organization for us, it’s also very valuable for us to have to exercise our operational muscle.”
Throughout the pilot program, Nuro will be looking to see how accurate its estimated delivery times are, how the public reacts to the vehicles and how regular, basic cars interact with self-driving ones.
Amazon is also testing drone delivery services. Amazon Prime Air promises to speed up deliveries, lessen traffic, among any number of other financial and time sensitive issues that come with product delivery.