Self-driving car startup AutoX announced today that it launched its first pilot of autonomous grocery delivery in San Jose, CA (h/t TechCrunch). AutoX’s move follows Kroger’s self-driving grocery delivery pilot launch in Phoenix earlier this month, signaling that autonomous grocery delivery might be commonplace before we know it.
For its San Jose pilot, AutoX partnered with fellow Bay Area companies GrubMarket, which is a B2B supplier of produce, and DeMartini Orchard, a Los Altos-based produce market. For now, AutoX’s grocery delivery is open to customers in geo-fenced areas of San Jose, and will be gradually expanding “every few weeks.”
What makes AutoX’s delivery program a little different from other grocery home delivery coming to market is that you can order groceries for delivery ahead of time and purchase items that are stocked inside the car. That is: you can place an advance order for groceries through the AutoX app for next-day delivery, or you can have the car come to your house where you can choose from a selection of goods that are inside the car and pay for them on the spot. The specifics of payment for in-car goods, such as whether cars are equipped with Amazon Go-like functionality or use some system of sensors, is unclear from the reporting.
Additionally, it looks as though AutoX’s deliveries will truly be human-free. In the announcement blog post, AutoX wrote: “The groceries will be well-preserved in a temperature-controlled environment throughout their driverless ride over.” So there won’t be anyone to gripe at if your order’s wrong.
AutoX’s news comes on the same day that Toyota invested $500 million in Uber as part of a larger agreement between the two companies to work on driverless car technology. While that deal didn’t address food delivery via something like the fast-growing Uber Eats specifically, Toyota did unveil its “e-Palette” line of autonomous delivery vehicles at CES earlier this year. So this new investment could come with its own autonomous food delivery component.
The entire autonomous driving space is driving ahead so quickly that pretty soon I’m going to run out of car-related puns. As noted earlier, Kroger has started its self-driving grocer delivery pilot in Arizona. And elsewhere at CES this year, Ford announced a deal with Postmates for self-driving food delivery.
Founded in 2016, AutoX has offices in San Jose and China, and according to TechCrunch, the company has raised $43 million from strategic investors. If you’re in the right area in San Jose, snap and share with us a pic of the robot car. Even better, order some groceries and let us know how it goes.