Asda and Wayve Team to Test UK Driverless Grocery Delivery

Asda has launched what it calls the U.K’s largest driverless grocery delivery trial.

The supermarket chain has teamed with autonomous vehicle technology startup Wayve to deliver groceries to customers using self-driving vehicles starting today, the companies announced in a news release Monday (April 17). 

The year-long trial — kicking off in West London’s Park Royal section — “will give the supermarket the ability to autonomously deliver groceries to a catchment area of over 170,000 residents across 72,000 households in London,” the release said.

Wayve’s self-driving vehicles will join Asda’s online delivery operation at its Park Royal superstore in West London and have the capability to drive themselves to shoppers’ homes.  

“Asda Park Royal customers can place their next-day delivery orders online as usual, choosing from the full range of online products and selecting a delivery slot that suits them, the only difference is they could be randomly selected to have their order delivered in a self-driving vehicle,” the release said.

Both an Asda employee and supervising Wayve safety driver will be in the vehicle during deliveries, with the supermarket worker loading and unloading the groceries at the customer’s home, the companies said.

The partnership is happening as several European retailers and tech companies are testing driverless delivery. As PYMNTS wrote in January, recent pilots in France and Germany point “to an evolving landscape and provide a glimpse into the future of European logistics.”

Last year, the Hamburg traffic authority gave Europe’s first permit to Berlin-based startup Vay Technologies to test driverless vehicles on public roads, an important milestone on the journey toward self-driving cars.

More recently, the autonomous vehicle firms Goggo Network and Oxbotica teamed to promote driverless delivery in Spain, combining U.K.-based Oxbotica’s autonomous driving software with Goggo’s middle- and last-mile delivery offerings for the grocery, food delivery and fast-moving commercial goods sectors.

Earlier this year, Asda announced it was partnering with digital consulting company Publicis Sapient to create an eGrocery business that will allow the grocer to transition away from relying on its former owner Walmart.

The move will take some time, with the new platform set to launch by April of next year. The British grocer did not expand on its motivations for seeking independence from the mega-retailer. And while Walmart may not have its own stores in the United Kingdom, it is easy to see why Asda would want to avoid relying on what is effectively now a competitor.

“Indeed, many grocers have been looking to build out their own eCommerce platforms for years to stop depending on third parties for their digital sales,” PYMNTS wrote. “Direct channels, after all, offer retailers control over the experience and the ability to collect direct data from shoppers so as to market to them more effectively.”