The investment comes after five months of the two companies working together. In November, Walmart announced it would pilot the use of Cruise’s self-driving vehicles for grocery delivery in Scottsdale, Arizona.
As we reported back in November, its partnership with Cruise ticked off a couple of boxes for Walmart. First, the retailer has been adding automation throughout its logistics and fulfillment stack to keep up with the increase in grocery (and other) e-commerce. Walmart is using Gatik trucks for middle-mile deliveries, adding automated fulfillment centers to its stores, and robotic curbside pickup kiosks.
But the Cruise relationship also helps with Walmart’s environmental goals. Cruise’s self-driving cars are 100 percent electric, and Walmart has a goal of achieving zero emissions across all its operations by 2040 and using 100 percent renewable energy by 2035.
Commercial use of self-driving vehicles is certainly getting a big push this year. One of Walmart’s middle-mile delivery routes in Arkansas will go full driverless this year. And just this week Udelv announced an entirely new line of Transporter autonomous delivery vehicles, while Domino’s announced it would be using Nuro’s self-driving pod vehicles for pizza delivery in Texas.
Self-driving cars on public roads still have a ways to go before they become mainstream, as there is still plenty of regulation that needs to be ironed out. But getting a financial push from giants like Walmart will certainly go a long way to getting self-driving vehicles on the road and to our doors (with groceries).
If you’re interested in the future of self-driving vehicle delivery, be sure to attend ArticulATE, our food robotic summit on May 18. Gatik, Pix and other players in the space will speak!