— Kroger (@kroger) June 28, 2018
The companies have yet to announce which geographies the test phase will first go live in, but the launch is scheduled to occur this fall.
Kroger intends to leverage Nuro’s self-driving technology to bring groceries, dry cleaning, and other items that are dropped specific pickup locations that fit within the city limits of the vehicles. The driverless cars will contain two compartments that may fit up to six individual grocery bags each.
The partnership initially came about after Kroger’s foray into smart-shelf technology and subsequent work with Ocado to utilize automated fulfillment centers.
The trial period that will begin this fall will monitor the accuracy of estimated delivery times, and focus on how the public interacts with self-driving cars on the road.
This trial will be live in one geographic region to start, though if all goes well, may expand to thousands of markets nationwide since Kroger has more than 2,800 individual stores. Kroger also recently began offering same-day delivery to around 75% percent of its customers, and the partnership with Nuro may work to expand delivery services to areas Kroger has yet to accommodate.
The customer experience of Nuro services will differ from that of Kroger’s same-day delivery due to the fact that items will be available on the curbside, rather than customer’s front door.
Nuro has also expressed interested in pursuing additional partners for its local delivery after the initial trial, including expanding to bakeries and florists.