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Kroger begins test of grocery delivery with self-driving vehicles

Pilot gets under way at Fry’s Food store in Arizona

Fry’s Food Stores in Scottsdale, Ariz., is leading off The Kroger Co.’s foray into driverless grocery delivery.

Kroger said its pilot with Mountain View, Calif.-based Nuro, announced in late June, kicks off today at the Fry’s supermarket on 7770 East McDowell Rd. in Scottsdale.

In the test, customers shop for groceries via or the Fry's mobile app and place their order based on time-slot availability. Orders can be scheduled for same-day or next-day delivery by Nuro's fleet of self-driving vehicles. The service has a flat fee of $5.95, and there’s no order minimum.

“We’re excited to launch our autonomous vehicle delivery pilot with Fry’s in Scottsdale,” Kroger Chief Digital Officer Yael Cosset said in a statement. “Kroger wants to bring more customers the convenience of affordable grocery delivery, and our pilot with Nuro will help us test and learn to understand customer acceptance of autonomous vehicles in our seamless offering. We thank Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane and the Scottsdale community for being terrific partners and for supporting customer-focused innovation.”

Specializing in robotics and artificial intelligence technology, Nuro is using its Toyota Prius self-driving car fleet for the launch of the pilot and plans to introduce its custom R1 driverless vehicle this fall.

“Arizona is home to some of the most innovative autonomous vehicle testing,” Nuro co-founder Dave Ferguson said. “We’re proud to contribute and turn our vision for local commerce into a real, accessible service that residents of Scottsdale can use immediately. Our goal is to save people time while operating safely and learning how we can further improve the experience.”

Kroger initially announced that the pilot would start this fall. Under the partnership, the companies said, customers will be able to place grocery orders through Kroger’s ClickList system and Nuro’s app and have their items delivered the same day by Nuro’s unmanned vehicles.

The test represents the first application and deployment of Nuro’s hardware and software. Kroger and Nuro have said their pilot could be a game-changer for online grocery delivery because of the supermarket retailer’s reach, about 2,800 stores in 35 states, and the groundbreaking technology being used.

“Scottsdale is proud to be the home of Kroger and Nuro’s partnership,” Lane said. “We welcome innovative technology that can benefit the lives of Scottsdale residents. We feel this partnership holds tremendous potential and promise, and offers our residents real, not-yet-experienced convenience for everyday routines.”

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