- Walmart announced a new pilot program with Udelv to deliver groceries via self-driving car on Tuesday.
- Walmart has also partnered with other companies working on self-driving car technology for its grocery delivery services, including Waymo and Ford.
- Online grocery is an area of focus for Walmart, and it may already be the top online grocery seller in the US.
Walmart is placing another bet on autonomous grocery delivery.
The company is launching a new pilot program with autonomous-vehicle startup Udelv, the company announced on Tuesday. It will take place in Surprise, Arizona.
“We continue to explore new ways that can make what’s easy today even easier tomorrow. That includes testing a number of things, including autonomous vehicle technology,” Tom Ward, Walmart’s senior vice president and head of digital operations for Walmart US, said in a blog post announcing the new pilot.
Unique to this pilot is that groceries will be delivered in a “custom-made” self-driving cargo van, which Walmart’s shopper employees will pack groceries into to be taken to customers. Udelv’s website touts its autonomous car as a vehicle “built specifically for last-mile delivery.”
“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,” Ward said in the post.
The pilot is the third Walmart has announced involving self-driving cars. In July, Walmart announced a pilot with Waymo – Google’s self-driving car project – also in Arizona, where customers will ride self-driving cars to and from Walmart to pick up their groceries.
In November, Walmart announced it had formed a partnership with Ford on grocery delivery using self-driving cars. This pilot is currently taking place in Miami and is in partnership with food-delivery service Postmates.
Online grocery has become a serious area of growth for Walmart, which was projected to pass Amazon as the top online grocery seller by the end of 2018, according to a report by Deutsche Bank.