Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) and robotics and driverless delivery company Nuro announced a partnership for a pilot program to use autonomous delivery vehicles for home grocery delivery.
The program will be offered to Walmart’s Houston-based customers, allowing them to order items online for scheduled delivery to their homes. For those customers that have opted into the program, autonomous delivery service will be provided through one of Nuro’s R2 custom-built delivery vehicles, which carry products without a driver or passenger onboard. The pilot will also use autonomous Toyota Priuses.
Walmart will offer the service to select participants initially, expanding the offering to the general public later in 2020.
“Our unparalleled size and scale have allowed us to steer grocery delivery to the front doors of millions of families – and design a road map for the future of the industry. Along the way, we’ve been test-driving a number of different options for getting groceries from our stores to our customers’ front doors through self-driving technology. We believe this technology is a natural extension of our grocery pickup and delivery service and our goal of making every day a little easier for customers,” said Tom Ward, Walmart U.S.’ senior vice president of digital operations.
Walmart has been growing its online grocery business significantly in recent years. The company called out the offering as a reason for its 41% year-over-year growth in domestic e-commerce sales in its fiscal third quarter 2020 financial report.
The company’s online grocery business now boasts nearly 3,100 pickup locations throughout the U.S. and Walmart recently launched InHome Delivery, a service that delivers groceries directly into homes, in three cities in its most recent quarter ended Oct. 30.
“Walmart is committed to serving our customers whenever and however they choose to shop. We are excited to work with Nuro and continue to learn as we are incorporating self-driving technology in our delivery options, learning more about our customers’ needs and evolving Walmart’s future delivery offerings,” continued Ward.
Nuro is a robotics company focused on driverless delivery. The company was founded by former Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) engineers Dave Ferguson and Jiajun Zhu in 2016 and broke the billion dollar threshold in funding earlier in 2019 when SoftBank Group (OTC US: SFTBY) led a $940 million raise for the company.
Nuro’s self-driving vehicles are already providing a similar grocery service in Arizona and Houston through a partnership with Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR).
“Working alongside Walmart gives us an incredible opportunity to improve our door-to-door operations, serve Walmart’s loyal customers and continue to integrate and engage with the Houston community,” said Nuro’s head of partner relations Cosimo Leipold.