Beneath the pilot program, prospects will be capable to place an order from their native Walmart retailer and have it delivered by way of one in every of Cruise’s autonomous, electrical Chevy Bolt automobiles. Whereas the automobiles will function autonomously, a human security operator will at all times be behind the wheel.
The businesses haven’t offered particulars on the scale of the fleet or buyer space that might be served, past stating will probably be in Scottsdale, a suburb of Phoenix. The pilot program is predicted to start early subsequent yr.
“Know-how that has the potential to not solely save prospects money and time but additionally be useful to the planet is expertise we wish to be taught extra about, Tom Ward, Walmart’s senior vp of buyer product within the U.S. mentioned Tuesday in a statement. Ward mentioned this pilot helps the retailer’s “street to zero emissions by 2040.”
This system introduced Tuesday is the most recent instance of Walmart exploring methods to broaden pickup and supply providers. Walmart launched in April a program called Express, which offers orders in two hours or much less for a further $10 on high of the standard supply payment. Categorical was initially piloted at 100 shops and is now scaled to greater than 2,800 places.
Walmart has additionally partnered with a handful of autonomous automobile builders together with Waymo to check out how the expertise would possibly finally be used at a business scale. The retailer signed a deal in 2019 with startup Udelv to check the usage of autonomous vans to ship on-line grocery orders to prospects in Shock, Arizona. Autonomous supply startup Nuro launched a pilot program with Walmart within the Houston in 2020. The retail big participated in a pilot with Postmates and Ford within the Miami-Dade and final yr the retailer tapped AV startup Gatik to ship buyer on-line grocery orders from Walmart’s principal warehouse to its neighborhood shops in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Whereas Cruise is greatest recognized for its plan to launch driverless robotaxi service in San Francisco, the corporate has additionally dabbled in supply.
Cruise and Doordash accomplished in 2019 a supply pilot in San Francisco. On the time, CEO Dan Ammann mentioned partnering with DoorDash would supply the corporate with “crucial learnings as we additional our mission to ship expertise that makes individuals’s lives higher and extra handy.”
And it seems it did. When the COVID-19 pandemic swept into North America, prompting authorities lockdowns, Cruise initially paused its testing in San Francisco. The corporate then began delivering ready meals for 2 meals banks. Cruise has now made almost 125,000 deliveries below this program. Cruise’s determination wasn’t with out controversy. Critics seen it as a tactic to sidestep the shutdown and discover a new option to take a look at.
It’s unclear simply how lengthy Cruise’s pilot program with Walmart will final or if it can even broaden. Cruise has maintained a small fleet of its self-driving Chevy Bolt EVs in Scottsdale, the place it has mapped the realm and tested its technology since no less than 2016.