Kroger is taking its tech game to the next level in the Southwest, it seems. The U.S. grocery giant is partnering with tech company Nuro to launch a new program and bring autonomous grocery delivery services to the Houston, Texas, area.
In what the company describes as “the nation's first fully unmanned delivery service available to the general public,” Kroger first launched its autonomous delivery pilot in Scottsdale, Arizona, in August of last year (as reported on by our sister publication) and later expanded that pilot to include Nuro's custom vehicle: R1.
“Our Arizona pilot program confirmed the flexibility and benefits provided by autonomous vehicles and how much customers are open to more innovative solutions,” said Yael Cosset, Kroger's Chief Digital Officer, in a press release. “It's always been our shared vision to scale this initiative to new markets, using world-changing technology to enable a new type of delivery service for our customers. We operate 102 stores in Houston—an energetic market that embraces digital and technology advancement. The launch is one more way we are committed to sustainably providing our customers with anything, anytime, and anywhere, the way they want it.”
With the upcoming launch, Kroger and Nuro will transfer the autonomous grocery delivery program to Houston for the next phase of the pilot, creating precedent for the two to potentially scale operations to the entire U.S.
“We've seen first-hand in Arizona how enthusiastic customers are about getting their Kroger groceries delivered by a Nuro self-driving vehicle,” said Nuro Co-Founder, Dave Ferguson. “Texas has been a leader in encouraging self-driving innovation, and we're excited to help deliver that future for Houston—a dynamic, diverse, and welcoming metropolitan city that we're excited to soon explore and serve with this autonomous delivery service.”
Through their first pilot, Kroger noted in its press release, both companies have successfully and safely completed thousands of deliveries to customers in Scottsdale. According to that press release, Kroger and Nuro’s Scottsdale pilot proved the companies' combined technology and digital expertise can transform the grocery delivery experience.
Kroger and Nuro will begin the service with Nuro's self-driving Toyota Prius fleet and will introduce the next generation of the custom driverless vehicle later this year.
Autonomous same-day and next-day delivery services will be available seven days a week through kroger.com, servicing Houston residents in four local zip codes through its 0306 South Post Oak Road, Houston, TX, and 5150 Buffalo Speedway, Houston, TX, locations.
Could a fleet of autonomous grocery delivery vehicles be coming to your town? Deli Market News will continue to report with updates on Kroger’s program and other innovations in delivery.