Walmart to Pilot Autonomous Grocery Deliveries in Arizona

Residents of Surprise, Arizona, can soon opt to have their Walmart grocery orders delivered by an autonomous vehicle. Walmart to Pilot Autonomous Grocery Deliveries in ArizonaWalmart is teaming up with Udelv to pilot autonomous vehicle (AV) grocery deliveries in the Arizona city. The trial is slated to kick off later this month.

“What’s really cool is that Udelv will utilize a cargo van custom-made to deliver fresh groceries–hand-picked by our personal shoppers–to customers,” Walmart US SVP of Digital Operations Tom Ward wrote in the announcement. “We’re still learning–it’s a pilot–but, we want to make sure we stay on the cutting edge of grocery delivery by exploring what’s new and next.” Unveiled this week at CES, Udelv’s second-generation autonomous delivery van (ADV), dubbed the Newton, can travel up to 60mph, including on highways, and carry up to 32 orders at a time. Built on a Ford Transit Connect chassis, they feature Velodyne LiDAR sensors and “upgraded autonomous driving software with delivery-specific functionalities,” the company said.

When the Walmart pilot kicks off, Udelv’s ADVs will operate with a human safety driver behind the wheel. But Udelv’s operators can also remotely monitor the fleet and take control of a vehicle, if necessary. “ADVs can cut delivery costs, narrow delivery windows, and make more goods more accessible to more people, enabling customers to save time and live better,” Udelv wrote in a Tuesday blog post. “With the backing of the world’s largest retailer, ADVs take a giant step towards delivering on their promises.”

This isn’t Walmart’s first test pilot involving AVs. The retail giant is also testing AV grocery pickups with Google parent company Alphabet’s self-driving car division in Arizona. As part of that trial, launched last summer, Waymo is transporting “early riders” in Chandler to and from Walmart to pick up their grocery orders.

Walmart also recently teamed up with Ford on AV grocery deliveries in Miami.

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