- Kroger is testing autonomous grocery delivery at two stores in the Houston, Texas area.
- The service is using the self-driving R1 vehicle from robotics company Nuro.
- There is a $5.95 delivery fee with no minimum order requirement.
If you happen to be in the Houston area, you may soon have a new way to get groceries from your local supermarket.
Kroger is partnering with Mountain View, California based robotics company Nuro to test the autonomous delivery service at two stores. The companies teamed up back in August 2018 to launch the first of its kind program at one Kroger supermarket in Scottsdale, Arizona. The grocery chain is excited to expand the service to the growing Houston area.
“Our Arizona pilot program confirmed the flexibility and benefits provided by autonomous vehicles and how much customers are open to more innovative solutions,” said Yael Cosset, Kroger’s chief digital officer in a press release. “We operate 102 stores in Houston—an energetic market that embraces digital and technology advancement. The launch is one more way we are committed to sustainably providing our customers with anything, anytime, and anywhere, the way they want it.”
Customers Can Order With App or Website
The ordering process is pretty simple. Customers can place orders via Kroger’s mobile app or website. Once an order is placed, store employees will load groceries into the autonomous vehicle and it will be sent on its way. The service is available 7 days a week with next and same day delivery available.
As far as pricing goes, there is a $5.95 delivery fee with no minimum order requirement. The service will be available at the 10306 South Post Oak Rd. and 5150 Buffalo Speedway locations with deliveries being made in four surrounding zip codes (77401, 77096, 77005 and 77025).
Kroger Using Toyota Prius and Nuro R1 for Autonomous Grocery Service
For the first few months of the testing, groceries will be delivered by self-driving Toyota Prius vehicles. Each car will have a human monitor in the car for observation and safety. Later in the year, Kroger will use Nuro’s R1 autonomous delivery vehicles. While the R1’s will not have a human in the car, they will be monitored remotely along with a vehicle following behind.
The best way to describe the impressive R1 is an autonomous half car/ half delivery robot. While it does travel on the road like a normal car, humans can’t really fit inside. The vehicle’s main purpose is delivering goods with safety in mind. The electric autonomous vehicles can only travel up to 25 mph which gives the R1 more time to react to help prevent collisions.
“With no driver or passengers to worry about, our vehicle has been engineered from the ground up to keep what’s outside even safer than what’s inside,” Nuro said on their website.
Kroger and Nuru hope to expand the autonomous grocery delivery service to other stores across the country. Kroger is America’s largest grocery chain with 2,782 stores operating across the nation.
“Texas has been a leader in encouraging self-driving innovation, and we’re excited to help deliver that future for Houston — a dynamic, diverse, and welcoming metropolitan city that we’re excited to soon explore and serve with this autonomous delivery service,” said Nuro co-founder, Dave Ferguson.