Walmart is partnering with Udelv to test its autonomous delivery vans in Surprise, Arizona.
Builds on existing driverless deliveries
The pilot will see a cargo van customised to support Walmart’s grocery delivery operation. The test builds on existing self-driving car pilots which are underway. These include a pilot program with Ford, and its delivery partner Postmates, and a similar program with Waymo, Google’s self-driving project. These pilots will help the retailer to better understand the future of delivery and the role of these vehicles as part of a broader mix of fulfillment options.
Source: IGD Research. Udelv’s delivery van being showcased at CES, Las Vegas.
Delivery option expanded to over 100 metro markets
Online grocery delivery is becoming a key part of the mix at Walmart. Having prioritised the roll-out of grocery pickup over the last few years, with over 2,000 stores now offering this service, the retailer has pushed ahead with expanding its delivery network. By the end of the current financial year, over 800 stores across 100 metro areas will offer this service. Walmart has worked with a range of delivery partners to grow this service, which is expected to double in size next this year. The retailer is also testing its own crowd-sourced delivery program, Spark Delivery.
Focusing on efficient fulfillment
This is one of several pilots that Walmart has underway related to online grocery fulfilment. Recently, it started to test to robotic picking technology at a Supercenter in New Hampshire. It uses robots to pick items for grocery pickup from a high-density storage system, operating around 10 times faster than its current manual picking system. It is also piloting an automated dispensing system in Sherman, Texas, enabling the store to double the capacity of orders it can fulfill for grocery pickup.
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