The company made the announcement on Tuesday (Jan. 8) at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada. Udelv also debuted its brand-new delivery vehicle, called the Newton, which is based on Baidu’s Apollo open source platform.
The pilot program with Walmart will happen at stores in Surprise, Arizona. The company also acquired an investment from the Marubeni Corporation, a move that Udelv CEO Daniel Laury said will aid in the company's expansion to other markets in the United States.
Laury said the company’s vans have done more than 1,200 deliveries to date, from restaurants, florists, bakeries, auto parts suppliers and others, all on public roads in the Bay Area.
“We’ve tested and proven our capability to successfully address the delivery market for Americans,” Laury said. “[We’re] now ready to work closely with America’s largest retailers to bring convenience and savings to hundreds of thousands of people.”
The Newton, which can fit up to 32 customers’ orders at a time, is a level 4 autonomous vehicle. Level 4 is known as high automation, where the car can operate without human input but only under select conditions, defined by factors like road type or location. It can drive up to 60 miles an hour on urban and suburban roads and highways.
It won’t go that fast, however, unless it’s near a store or a distribution location, and not in catchment areas that are bigger than 400 square miles.
The trial, which is set to start next month, will initially have human drivers as backups “until both companies and regulators deem them approved for a safe removal of the safety driver.”
“America’s leading retailers know to stay competitive and continue to provide outstanding customer shopping experiences, they need to stay ahead of the curve and lead the market with the adoption of new technology,” Laury said. “Walmart is a forward-thinking business that consistently invests in providing value to its customers, and our trial builds on this commitment.”