Walmart rolls out autonomous-driving van fleet from Udelv

By Folake Dosu  |  January 16, 2019

robotics-Walmart-Udelv-autonomous

The exploration of driverless cars for grocery delivery continues as CNBC reports that Walmart is now piloting a program using a fleet of autonomous-driving vans from Udelv to deliver fresh groceries in Surprise, Arizona.

“We want to make sure we stay on the cutting edge of grocery delivery by exploring what’s new and next,” Tom Ward, senior vice president of Walmart’s digital operations in the U.S., said last Tuesday in a company blog post.

“ADVs (Autonomous Delivery Vans) can cut delivery costs, narrow delivery windows, and make more goods more accessible to more people, enabling customers to save time and live better. With the backing of the world’s largest retailer, ADVs take a giant step towards delivering on their promises.”

“ADVs (Autonomous Delivery Vans) can cut delivery costs, narrow delivery windows, and make more goods more accessible to more people, enabling customers to save time and live better,” Udelv said in their own blog post. “With the backing of the world’s largest retailer, ADVs take a giant step towards delivering on their promises.”

Walmart has previously announced pilot programs with self-driving car companies such as Ford and Alphabet’s Waymo, according to the outlet. 

Expanding online grocery delivery has been a priority for the big-box retailer, as Walmart intends to provide an online grocery delivery option in roughly 100 metropolitan areas by the end of this fiscal year. This would enable the company to reach more than 40 percent of U.S. households, but it is not stopping there. In 2019, Walmart plans to add this option to another 800 stores.

Walmart has already announced other pilot programs with self-driving car companies, including Ford and Alphabet’s Waymo. The company plans to end this fiscal year with an online grocery delivery option in roughly 100 metropolitan areas, reaching more than 40 percent of U.S. households. For 2019, it plans to add that to another 800 stores.

Online grocery delivery is a strategic investment as retailers rush to adapt to consumer preferences. CNBC cites a survey by grocer advisory group Brick Meets Click, which found that online spending by U.S. consumers for groceries is expected to increase 15 percent in 2019. 6.3 percent of overall grocery sales would then take place online. Brick Meets Click also predicts that retailers that offer delivery and pick-up options for grocery orders will see their online sales grow by 25 to 30 percent this year.

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