Self-driving cars won't only carry around people in the future but also all kinds of goods, from groceries to takeout to pretty much any kind of household item.
In preparation for this future, Walmart is testing the waters with an automated delivery service using self-driving cars from California's Cruise.
Cruise is backed by automakers General Motors (its parent company) and Honda, and in October joined the list of self-driving technology companies allowed to test prototypes without a human onboard. The prototypes can still be remotely controlled if needed, however. Cruise's first driverless cars will take to the streets of San Francisco by the end of 2020, and the company expects to start a limited automated taxi service in 2021 using its own Cruise Origin shuttles.
The automated delivery service with Walmart will start in early 2021 and cover parts of Scottsdale, Arizona. The delivery vehicles will be Cruise prototypes based on the Chevrolet Bolt EV. Customers will be able to place an order online at their local Walmart and have the goods delivered, contact-free.
It's not the first time Walmart has trialed an automated delivery service. Back in 2018, the retailer partnered with Ford and Postmates for a similar service. That year, Walmart also partnered with Waymo to offer store discounts for those involved in the self-driving car company's Early Riders trial. However, customers needed to be onboard the self-driving car and actually show up to pick up their pre-selected goods.