Residents of Scottsdale, Arizona, can now get their groceries delivered by autonomous vehicles. Grocery giant Kroger and technology partner Nuro are rolling out a trial program at a single Fry's Food location. The cost to participate? Just $5.95 per delivery with no minimum order.
The program began on Thursday, August 16. To be eligible, customers must live in the 85257 area code.
Nuro has equipped a fleet of Toyota Priuses (Prii?) with autonomous technology. They now serve as the phase one test vehicles while Nuro's special R1 delivery vehicle undergoes final certification testing. The R1, according to Autoblog, is a driverless delivery van that lacks space for a human driver. The autonomous Prius, however has space for a human to monitor the vehicle in case of a possible accident.
Kroger and Nuro join companies like Waymo and Walmart, which are also testing self-driving cars in Arizona. Waymo sees other ways to use its self-driving vehicles, most of which involve moving people.
Scottsdale makes good sense for such a program. The weather is generally very dry, and there's already precedent in Arizona for autonomous testing.
Still, we wouldn't be surprised to hear about some push back from the local populace. This is still very young technology in the private sector, and it's capable of creating tragic headlines. Yes, the driver in the Uber accident should've been focused on the task at hand, but the self-driving vehicle should have, too.
This is a great use of autonomous tech before it's ramped up to full-scale passenger use, which is still years away.