Kroger Co., the grocery retailer, and Nuro, the SoftBank-backed robotics company, announced on Thursday (March 14) the launch of their autonomous grocery delivery service in Houston.
In a press release, the companies said the service will be available through two Houston Kroger stores, reaching customers residing in four local zip codes.
"We've seen firsthand in Arizona how enthusiastic customers are about getting their Kroger groceries delivered by a Nuro self-driving vehicle," said Nuro Co-founder Dave Ferguson in the press release. "Texas has been a leader in encouraging self-driving innovation, and we're excited to help deliver that future for Houston – a dynamic, diverse and welcoming metropolitan city that we're excited to soon explore and serve with this autonomous delivery service."
Since August, Kroger and Nuro have operated a self-driving grocery delivery service in Scottsdale, Arizona, servicing a single zip code with an autonomous vehicle fleet. The two expanded the partnership in late 2018 to include Nuro's custom vehicle, R1, which became the first fully unmanned delivery service available to the general public. Through the pilot, the companies said they have successfully and safely completed thousands of deliveries to customers in Scottsdale.
"Our Arizona pilot program confirmed the flexibility and benefits provided by autonomous vehicles and how much customers are open to more innovative solutions," said Yael Cosset, Kroger's chief digital officer. "It's always been our shared vision to scale this initiative to new markets, using world-changing technology to enable a new type of delivery service for our customers. We operate 102 stores in Houston, an energetic market that embraces digital and technology advancement. The launch is one more way we are committed to sustainably providing our customers with anything, anytime and anywhere, the way they want it."
The deal with Kroger is further validation of Nuro's vision to bring self-driving technology to local delivery, as the company envisions more than just food being delivered with its vehicles.