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MIT Technology Review

US grocery giant Kroger has started making autonomous deliveries

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The US grocer is trialing autonomous delivery vehicles in Scottsdale, Arizona with no human supervision.

Some background: Kroger announced its partnership with robotics company Nuro earlier this year, but at the time, humans were still behind the wheel of the self-driving-car trial. Since August, almost 1,000 test deliveries have been made with some human assistance.

The news: Now, at least one autonomous vehicle is heading out on its own to bring you your cereal and snacks. The R1, the first fully autonomous member of Kroger’s delivery service, is beginning work today. Customers will pay $5.95 to request a visit from the robotic delivery van. It will start by servicing just one store in Arizona. Users will have to come out to meet the vehicle and unload it when it arrives.

The delivery robots are everywhere: We just found out about Postmates’ new robot last week (and earlier this week college students threw a candlelight vigil for one). E-commerce giants have been looking for the best way to get packages to consumers’ doors for a while. But the so-called last-mile problem is even tougher for grocers, as food tends to be fragile and perishable. The hope of homing in on a solution is motivating the numerous autonomous tests, and prompting more bots to take to the roads and sidewalks.