Walmart has teamed up with General Motors‘ self-driving subsidiary, Cruise, to pilot a new autonomous vehicle delivery service.
The pilot will launch in early 2021 in Scottsdale, Arizona and will enable customers to place an order from their local Walmart store and have it delivered to them in one of Cruise’s Chevy Bolt EV-based self-driving prototypes. The American retail giant says electric self-driving delivery service has the potential to save customers time and money and will also be kinder to the environment than using internal combustion-powered cars, trucks or vans.
This isn’t the first time Walmart has experimented with autonomous vehicle delivery services. The company also tapped Ford to pilot a self-driving grocery delivery service back in 2018 and has also partnered with other self-driving firms like Waymo, Udelv and Gatik for similar grocery delivery pilot programs. But while those pilot programs used ICE vehicles, the Cruise pilot program will be the first to use a fleet of battery-electric vehicles.
“You’ve seen us test drive with self-driving cars in the past, and we’re continuing to learn a lot about how they can shape the future of retail,” Walmart said in a prepared statement. “We’re excited to add Cruise to our lineup of autonomous vehicle pilots as we continue to chart a whole new roadmap for retail.”
“What’s unique about Cruise is they’re the only self-driving car company to operate an entire fleet of all-electric vehicles powered with 100% renewable energy, which supports our road to zero emissions by 2040,” Walmart added.
This latest pilot program with Cruise also allows for contact-free delivery, giving buyers peace of mind during the COVID-19 pandemic and potentially saving them from having to take a trip to Walmart and risk coming in contact with someone who may have COVID.
Cruise is currently using its fleet of self-driving vehicles to develop the Cruise Origin – a fully driverless robotaxi expected to enter production at GM’s Factory Zero plant in 2022. The company recently received approval to begin testing the vehicles on public roads without an operator in the driver’s seat, becoming the first company to test such a vehicle in a major U.S. city.