The project from Kroger, the biggest supermarket chain in the United States, is part of an effort to fend off a rising threat from Amazon and Walmart, which have been pushing their online grocery offerings.
Kroger’s pilot program started last week with a robotic vehicle parked outside one of its Fry’s supermarkets in Scottsdale. A store clerk loaded grocery bags into the back seat of a car with two men in the front seats, one with a laptop. Both were there to monitor the car’s performance.
Under the self-driving service, shoppers can order same-day or next-day delivery online or on a mobile app for a flat rate of about $6. After the order is placed, a driverless vehicle will deliver the groceries curbside. Customers are required to be present to collect them.
During the next phase of testing in the fall, deliveries will be made by an autonomous vehicle with no human aboard. The vehicles will probably be opened with a numeric code.
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