Walmart wants to learn whether robotic deliveries fit in with its retail operations so it’s launching a pilot program with General Motors-backed Cruise using the tech startup’s electric, self-driving to haul groceries and other goods to suburban Phoenix customers.
The project starts sometime in early 2021 and will use battery-powered vehicles in Cruise’s test fleet in Scottsdale, Arizona, Tom Ward, Walmart’s senior vice president for customer product, said in a blog post Tuesday. Cruise has said the electricity used to charge up its self-driving fleet comes entirely from renewable resources, which helps the retailer’s goal of curbing carbon emissions from its operations.
“Customers can place an order from their local store and have it delivered, contact-free, via one of Cruise’s all-electric self-driving cars,” Ward said. “Technology that has the potential to not only save customers time and money but also be helpful to the planet is technology we want to learn more about.”
The number of vehicles to be used and financial terms of the project weren’t immediately available. Walmart began working with self-driving company Waymo in the Phoenix area in 2018 (using its Pacifica Hybrid minivans, which are only partially powered by electricity).