Kroger Adds Autonomous Grocery Delivery to Two Houston Stores
The service currently uses Toyota Prius hybrids, but a smaller, unmanned vehicle is coming later this year.
For people who don’t want to go to the grocery store, plenty of supermarkets now offer delivery. But if you think buying your own groceries is tedious, imagine delivering someone else’s? Turns out Kroger is starting to cut that middle man out of the equation: The grocery giant has just announced that it’s rolling out autonomous grocery delivery to a couple of its stores in Houston.
Kroger first began testing autonomous grocery delivery last year with the help of the robotics company Nuro. The partnership was originally trialed in Scottsdale, Arizona, where a fleet of self-driving Toyota Prius cars were serving a single zip code. Now, the two companies will bring similar technology to two stores in Houston, Texas, first by using Nuro’s existing Prius system, but later this year, also with the aid of a new type of smaller driverless vehicle known as “the R1.” The site FoodNavigator-USA reports that these R1 vehicles use a mix of self-driving software and sensing hardware to bring up to 12 grocery bags to customers with a smaller footprint than a car.
“We're excited to launch our autonomous vehicle delivery pilot with Nuro in Houston, a leading city that embraces innovation and technology,” Marlene Stewart, Kroger's Houston division president, said in a statement. “Kroger continues to redefine the customer experience, and we're thrilled to provide our customers with a new way to have their groceries delivered. We thank Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, and the Houston community for being terrific partners and for supporting consumer-focused robotics.”
To start, the program is being offered at the Houston Kroger at 10306 South Post Oak Road servicing 77401 and 77096. Then, later this spring, the store at 5150 Buffalo Speedway servicing 77005 and 77025 will be brought into the autonomous fun. The service costs $5.95 with no minimum order and can be scheduled for delivery as soon as the same day.