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Are self-driving delivery vehicles closer than we think?

One company already completed its first two successful deliveries.

On a day in early February, a California-based company made a grocery delivery. The catch? There was technically no one behind the wheel.

Thanks to udelv's new technology, an autonomous, last-mile delivery vehicle made the world’s first public road test delivery from Draeger’s Market in San Mateo, California, to two nearby customers. The vehicle is capable of providing automated shipping and delivery services from a store, restaurant, warehouse or distribution center to online customers within a 10 to 15 mile radius. Essentially, udelv provides that last segment of shipping: delivery to the end consumer.

“We started deliveries for Draeger’s Market and it is going very well,” says CEO Daniel Laury. “Draeger’s customers are excited about the new service. We learned there is an overwhelmingly positive response and that customers have been adapting well thus far to the new technology.” As a result, udelv is expanding its delivery routes for the grocer.

The customer experience is pretty simple. A cheerful, bright orange electric vehicle arrives at the home, and customers utilize a mobile application to unlock the cargo area and retrieve their order. For the time being, safety drivers man the vehicles in case of emergency, to comply with California law. Going forward, udelv plans to roll out this technology nationwide.

As for potential partners? All types and sizes of stores are potential partners for udelv, says Laury, but the cities that will work best are urban ones with good weather, as the systems don't currently work well in heavy rain. “Our goal is to cover several cities by the end of the year,” says Laury. “We’re continuously training the autonomy technology to address more use cases and perfect it.”

This piece originally appeared on New Hope Network, a Supermarket News sister website.

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