Grocery store giant Kroger just announced that its autonomous vehicle delivery service is officially going driverless, thanks to a partnership with self-driving car startup Nuro.
Earlier this year, the supermarket chain announced it will work with Nuro to launch a driverless delivery service in Scottsdale, Arizona. The program used a fleet of Toyota Priuses, equipped with sensors and AI equipment, and staffed by safety drivers.
Now Nuro is confident enough to fulfill orders without the human driver. According to a blog post, the company has been working on perfecting the design of an “unmanned on-road vehicle” called the R1. But Nuro hasn’t removed humans from the equation completely. Nuro employees are still able to take over control over its fleet of R1s remotely.
“Toaster on Wheels”
The R1 features “world-class self driving software and sensing hardware,” and takes up far less room on the road than a traditional passenger car. It’s built from the ground up to haul groceries, so it’s easy to load and unload.
Customers will still have to step out to the side of the road to retrieve their groceries. Deliveries via the service will cost $5.95 extra.
Battle of the Bots
The collaboration between Kroger and Nuro isn’t the only autonomous delivery service in the works. Food delivery startup Postmates just revealed its own autonomous vehicle service — though it will share the sidewalk with pedestrians rather than driving on the road.
But will the roads be safe with Nuro’s bots zipping by loaded with groceries? As long as they don’t catch fire, we’ll hopefully be fine.
READ MORE: US grocery giant Kroger has started making autonomous deliveries [MIT Technology Review]