Earlier this year, Kroger teamed up with the self-driving startup Nuro for a grocery delivery service, and in August the company began piloting an autonomous delivery service in Arizona. At the time, the deliveries were made by a self-driving Toyota Prius fleet with safety drivers on board. But now, Kroger is adding Nuro's R1 vehicle to its fleet and the move introduces a driverless component to the company's autonomous delivery service.
The R1 can drive on public roads and operates without a driver or passengers on board. It only transports goods -- in this case groceries -- and will make deliveries for one Fry's Food Store location in Scottsdale, Arizona. Customers can place orders online or through the store's app and then schedule same-day or next-day delivery. Orders will be delivered by either a self-driving Prius or Nuro's R1 vehicle.
Arizona is a hotbed of autonomous vehicle research, largely thanks to the state's openness towards the technology. A number of companies including Uber, Waymo, Intel and GM have tested their driverless technologies in Arizona and the state has created an autonomous vehicle research institute aimed at developing industry standards and best practices.
"Nuro envisions a world without errands, where everything is on-demand and can be delivered affordably," President Dave Ferguson said in a statement. "Operating a delivery service using our custom unmanned vehicles is an important first step toward that goal"