Kroger is delivering on its promise to send groceries straight to customers’ doors using driverless vehicles nearly six months after announcing the initiative.
On Tuesday, the supermarket chain said customers in Scottsdale, Arizona, will be the first to use its new service after completing its test program in August.
"Kroger customers are looking for new, convenient ways to feed their families and purchase the products they need quickly through services like pickup and delivery," Yael Cosset, Kroger’s chief digital officer, said in a statement.
"Our autonomous delivery pilot with Nuro over the past few months continues to prove the benefit of the flexible and reliable technology."
In June, the Cincinnati-based company announced that it is teaming up with Silicon Valley startup Nuro to begin testing the service using its unmanned minivans called R1.
Kroger called the project the “world’s first road test of an unmanned delivery vehicle.”
Customers who are interested in the service pay a $5.95 flat rate for same-day or next-day delivery. After the order is placed, Nuro’s R1 van is then stacked with groceries and programmed to travel on public roads to the customers' addresses where they will retrieve their items from the van.
Nuro’s R1 van, which is shaped like a rounded, silver lunch box, was created by two engineers who worked on autonomous vehicles at Google. The technology is poised to help Kroger compete with Amazon and Walmart in the race to offer the fastest same-day deliveries to customers.
Over the last year, Kroger has made a number of investments towards expanding its digital and online delivery footprint to better compete.
In May, the supermarket chain signed a deal with British online grocer Ocado to ratchet up its delivery business with the construction of robotically operated warehouses throughout the U.S. The company said earlier this month that digital sales for the past quarter had grown 66 percent.
Cosset said in June that its partnership with Nuro will “redefine the grocery customer experience” and expand the company’s coverage area at a fair price.
In April, Walmart announced it was partnering with Postmates to expand its online grocery delivery program.
Amazon also announced in early June that it plans to partner with entrepreneurs across the country who run their own local delivery networks of up to 40 delivery vans to help them speed up its same-day deliveries.
Additional details on what Kroger locations will be offering the service were not disclosed.