Kroger Starts Replacing Humans With A Robot Grocery Delivery Fleet

Nuro and The Kroger Co. announced Tuesday that a fleet of unmanned autonomous vehicles would begin delivering groceries to the general public, effectively eliminating the last mile human delivery drivers.

Since August, both companies have thoroughly tested the grocery delivery service with an autonomous Prius fleet, accompanied by drivers and sometimes chaser vehicles during the pilot trial. In the last four months, robot cars delivered more than 1,000 orders to customers across the Phoenix metropolitan area at its Fry’s Food Stores for $5.95 with no minimum order requirement for same-day or next-day deliveries, said Reuters.

With Tuesday's announcement, the fleet has expanded to include Nuro’s custom, low-speed, zero-emission, self-driving vehicle, known as the R1.

The R1 is engineered for short neighborhood trips and for the exclusive purpose of transporting and delivering goods.

“Nuro envisions a world without errands, where everything is on demand and can be delivered affordably,” said Dave Ferguson, Nuro’s president and co-founder. “Operating a delivery service using our custom unmanned vehicles is an important first step toward that goal.”

“Kroger customers are looking for new, convenient ways to feed their families and purchase the products they need quickly through services like pickup and delivery,” said Yael Cosset, Kroger’s chief digital officer.

“Our autonomous delivery pilot with Nuro over the past few months continues to prove the benefit of the flexible and reliable technology. Through this exciting and innovative partnership, we are delivering a great customer experience and advancing Kroger’s commitment to redefine the grocery experience by creating an ecosystem that offers our customers anything, anytime, and anywhere," Cosset added. 

Phenoix will not be the only metropolitan area that has self-driving vehicles delivering groceries, Kroger plans a much broader rollout in the coming years. 

Walmart and Amazon have also invested in their last mile delivery operations.

For example, Walmart, Ford and delivery service Postmates said last month they would work together to deliver groceries to Walmart customers and focus on the implementation of autonomous vehicles. 

This could be the beginning of the self-driving industry. This new technology will revolutionize the economy, but at the same time, lead to an incredible amount of job loss for the transportation industry into the 2020s. 

To gain more color on automation in the workplace and how millions are expected to lose their jobs, here is Karen Harris, Managing Director of Bain & Company's Macro Trends Group, discusses the impact of demographics and automation on employment in the years ahead.