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Driverless Deliveries Hit the Market in Arizona

Silicon Valley start-up Nuro has together with grocery chain Kroger launched a fully driverless commercial delivery service of goods available to the public in Arizona, USA [1].

The deliveries will be made with Nuro’s custom made delivery-vehicle, the R1, and will for the time being be shipping out groceries from one Kroger store to residents in Scottsdale, Arizona. The service will cost shoppers $5.95, requires no minimum order quantity and will meet recipients at the curb by their home.

The delivery will be completely driverless, with no human safety driver onboard the R1s. However, if things go awry, they can be remotely controlled by an operator should the situation demand it. Furthermore, they currently have a top speed on public roads of 40 km/h.

The service is now the first fully driverless goods delivery solution to hit the market, with prominent OEMs such as Ford's trials with Domino pizza, and other pilots by GM and Volkswagen trailing the waters [2].

 

Personal comments

For the first jab at a fully driverless market delivery solution for goods, the R1 seems impressive enough at a glance with its robust top speed and capacity for delivery. However, the more important question is the flexibility of the service in terms of the goods it can deliver, and thus the customers it can serve. Is it possible to design a service that can simultaneously carry different types and sizes of goods, thus serving a greater amount and variety of consumers? Other relevant challenges include the reliance of the service and the technology behind it and its scalability beyond one geographical location.

It also seems like this launch is an important first step in automated delivery services that may become crucial in the future based on growing demand from the current robust upswing of e-commerce services across the globe. While many eyes are glued to the robo-taxi revolution spearheaded by Waymo, this segment of the market will also play a monumental role in the future of automated mobility solutions.

 

Written by Darijan Jelica, RISE Viktoria.

 

Sources

1. 2018-12-18. Robot vehicles start unmanned deliveries in Arizona.

2. 2018-11-15. Ford’s blueprint to turn self-driving tech into profits.