That future we’ve been hearing so much about is actually starting to take shape — at least if you live in Scottsdale, Arizona. A partnership between Kroger and Nuro, a recent entrant to the self-driving car world, started delivering actual results in the shape of groceries on Thursday. The grocery chain is using Nuro’s self-driving vehicles to do grocery deliveries in the area, using safety drivers at first, but with plans to move to completely autonomous vehicles in the near future..
Customers can shop using Kroger’s pre-existing grocery delivery site, and for now, the only real difference is that they won’t actually get help unloading the stuff from the delivery vehicle. Even though there will be a safety driver inside the car, customers will need to meet the vehicle on the curb and help unload, preparing everyone for a future when there isn’t a human inside the vehicle.
For now, Nuro is using a fleet of modified Toyota Prius vehicles to do the deliveries, but it’s hoping to move to its custom-built self-driving delivery vehicles later this fall. Nuro has engineered its R1 delivery cars from the ground up as fully autonomous delivery vehicles, with a skinny body, delivery “pods” that open on the side, and no driver’s seat or controls.
For now, The Verge reports that only one store is involved, the Fry’s Food Store on East McDowell Road. Delivery charge is $5.95, and there’s no minimum order amount. In a statement from Nuro seen by The Verge, Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane said, “We welcome innovative technology that can benefit the lives of Scottsdale residents. We feel this partnership holds tremendous potential and promise, and offers our residents real, not-yet-experienced convenience for everyday routines.”