Autonomous Transport is Transforming Walmart and Coca-Cola

Both brands are using driverless transport to manage delivery and increase sustainability in test markets.

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Need to Know

  • Walmart recently partnered with Nuro to launch a driverless grocery delivery service. The flagship R2 vehicle tops out at 25mph and is currently being escorted by human-driven vehicles.
  • Nuro’s fleet has over 75 vehicles operating throughout Houston.
  • Coca-Cola is taking autonomous driving international by working with Swedish startup Einride. The startup will operate its pod transportation system between specific warehouses and retailers.

Analysis

Walmart partnered with Nuro to test its driverless grocery delivery service to a test group of participants in Houston, Texas, hoping for a wider availability next year. Residents must opt in to Nuro’s service, then they will be delivered groceries from either an autonomous Prius or an R2, a car half the size of a sedan. The latter can fit over 50 grocery bags.

The retailer hopes that this latest partnership, in addition to other trials held earlier in the year, will continue to provide customers flexibility and personalization when it comes to how and when they shop. 

“Walmart is committed to serving our customers whenever and however they choose to shop. We are excited to work with Nuro and continue to learn as we are incorporating self-driving technology [into] our delivery options, learning more about our customers’ needs, and evolving Walmart’s future delivery offerings,” said Walmart SVP of digital operations Tom Ward. 

Earlier this year, Nuro received a $1 billion investment from Japan’s SoftBank.

From retailer to beverage company, Coca-Cola looked to Swedish startup Einride for their driverless delivery pods. The partnership could help the retailer reduce its CO2 output by as much as 90% compared to their current in-use solutions.

Set to roll out over the next few years, Eintide’s efficient driverless pods will transport products from a Coca-Cola European Partners’ warehouse to the retailer’s distribution hub ahead of sending them off to local retail locations in Sweden.

US based Grocery chain Kroger also employed Nuro’s self-driving cars in select areas of Arizona as part of its grocery delivery service earlier this year. Kroger reported that its pilot program provided customers with increased delivery flexibility and showed the retailer how much customers are open to more innovative solutions. 

Test markets for both Walmart and Coca-Cola remain small, as safety is a top priority. For now, Walmart’s fleet of driverless delivery pods will be escorted by human-driven cars. 

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