Competition between grocery stores continues to heat up as the brick and mortar supermarkets work to attract new customers. Many people have started to order their groceries online using services such as Fresh Direct or meal kits like Blue Apron. Kroger, America's largest supermarket chain, is hoping to cash in on the delivery business and announced that it is partnering with the autonomous car company Nuro to bring groceries right to their customers' doorstep.
"We cannot just rely on physical stores to reach all of our customers for delivery and and pick-up," said Yael Cosset, Kroger’s Chief Digital Officer, in an interview with CNBC.
The driverless vehicles made by Nuro are specifically designed to transport goods and not people. The small vehicles feature temperature controlled compartments to ensure that the groceries arrive fresh. Customers will be able to order online or using an app. The pilot program will launch in the fall, but Kroger has not said what city will be the first to test the driverless deliveries.
For the initial stage of the program, the cars will have drivers, but they won't help you unload your groceries. The goal is to phase out the drivers completely, but Nuro will have to overcome multiple roadblocks as they navigate the legal issues surrounding autonomous vehicles.
Among the obstacles - they will need to get permission from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to be allowed to operate in states that ban fully autonomous vehicles.
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