Kroger Starts Driverless Delivery Test in Arizona, GM Targets 2019

Kroger teems up with Nuro, a car with no steering wheel or brake pedals, for driverless delivery in Arizona.

The driverless naysayers are looking sillier and sillier as Kroger Begins Tests of Driverless Grocery Delivery in Arizona.

>U.S. supermarket operator Kroger Co said it will start testing driverless grocery delivery on Thursday with technology partner Nuro at a single Frys Food Store in Scottsdale, Arizona.

>Kroger and rival Walmart Inc each have teamed up with autonomous vehicle companies in a bid to lower the high-cost of last-mile deliveries to customer doorsteps, as online retailer Amazon.com rolls out free Whole Foods delivery for subscribers to its Prime perks program.

>The first phase of the test will use a fleet of Toyota Prius cars equipped with Nuro technology. Those cars have seats for humans who can override autonomous systems in the event of an error or emergency. Nuros R1 driverless delivery van, which has no seats, will begin testing this autumn, the companies said.

No Seats, No Steering Wheel, No Brake Pedals

Also consider Two Ex-Google Engineers Built an Entirely Different Kind of Self-Driving Car

>A new startup that proposes a different spin on autonomous transportation came out of stealth today. The company, called Nuro, was founded by two former lead Google engineers who worked on the famed self-driving car project. Unlike the plethora of self-driving startups out there, Nuro isnt focused on reconfiguring robot taxis or autonomous trucks, but on designing a new type of vehicle altogether.

>Nuro is focused on deliveries, specifically the kind that are low-speed, local, and last-mile: groceries, laundry, or your take-out order from Seamless. The startup thinks that automating these services could help shoulder the sharp increase in last-mile deliveries, while also reducing traffic accidents and boosting local businesses who are looking for ways to thrive and compete in the age of Amazon.

>A peek through the windshield will also reveal the complete absence of traditional controls like steering wheels, foot pedals, and gear shifts. Theres no driver seat because humans were not meant to operate this vehicle.

>While it works out the kinks in its drone delivery project, Amazon is also considering using self-driving robots, having just filed a patent for an autonomous ground vehicle. Toyota unveiled its bizarre e-palette concept at CES this year. Meanwhile, Starship Technologieshas sidewalk-only delivery robots making trips in California, Washington, DC, Germany, and the UK. Last year, Ford Motor Company teamed up with Dominos to deliver pizza via a self-driving car. And later today, a Northern Californian startup called Udelv is demonstratingwhat it calls the worlds first public-road autonomous delivery test, in which a self-driving van (with human safety driver) will deliver goods from the high-end Draegers Market chain in the Bay Area city of San Mateo.

>There are some challenges to Nuros business model, specifically how customers will receive their deliveries from the self-driving delivery pod. No driver means no one to ring your doorbell or trudge up four flights of stairs to hand over your pad thai. Ferguson says he envisions customers using what else? an app to inform them when the vehicle has arrived in front of their building or in their driveway. They would then be given a code that pops open the vehicles side hatches so they can retrieve their items. They are also considering using facial recognition technology. But whats to prevent people from stealing someone elses deliveries? There are still a lot of details that need to be worked out, Ferguson acknowledged.

GM Targets 2019

GM Says Car With No Steering Wheel Or Pedals Ready For Streets In 2019

>General Motors says it is ready to mass-produce a self-driving car that has no steering wheel, pedals or any other manual controls.

>The car company said Friday that it has filed a petition with the Department of Transportation for the fourth-generation Cruise AV to hit the streets in 2019.

>GM maintains that the car "will comply with federal safety laws;" the petition is asking for a waiver for laws that it cannot meet "because they are human-driver-based-requirements."

>For example: "A car without a steering wheel can't have a steering wheel airbag," as GM President Dan Ammann told The Verge.

>Some critics, such as Jalopnik's Jason Torchinsky, have suggested GM should have been more experimental: "There's just no reason to keep these rigid interior design rules when you're not required (or able) to drive! ... There should at least be an option to swivel the front seats around, or allow the seats to all face inwardly."

>It'll be possible for humans to stop the car GM says customers having an emergency "may end the ride by making a stop request, and the vehicle will pull to the side of the road at the next available safe place."

>The cars are undergoing testing on the roads of San Francisco and the Phoenix suburbs. GM says San Francisco provides rigorous challenges to the vehicles for example, in the Northern California city it faces more than 7 times more emergency vehicles than in Phoenix.

It's Happening

Driverless is clearly happening.

While I consider grocery delivery a niche, the important point is another player besides Waymo has cars that are street-ready without humans, unlike Uber.

Ford joins that group in 2019.

Again, the most logical place for driverless vehicles to take hold quickly are airport taxi shuttles and long haul truck driving on interstates. The latter will take off quickly once the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) grants approval and USDOT is committed to the project with a Comprehensive Management Plan for Automated Vehicle Initiatives.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (18)
No. 1-10
tz1
tz1

In the link, especially with the "override" I don't see where ti will have no steering wheel or brake pedal. Meanwhile, https://www.wsj.com/articles/get-in-line-backlog-for-big-rigs-stretches-to-2019-1534500005 So the Crony USDOT will approve unsafe trucks to run in bad weather over treacherous mountain roads and not know about runaway truck ramps? This will be interesting until the first death occurs.

gliderdude
gliderdude

Not terribly excited except for autonomous sleeper-bed car that transfers me to remote location painlessly before waking. Won't be first adopter. Otherwise can see value in autonomous office-vehicle converting 30-60 minute commutes into work hours.

Realist
Realist

Personally, I am looking forward to the adoption of all manner of self-driving vehicles and the benefits they will provide. However, I am not as optimistic as Mish on how quickly they will be adopted. I expect that it will be a minimum 10 years before I purchase a self-driving vehicle.

Grumblenose
Grumblenose

There's a huge gap between breathless media reports and any kind of reality. For example, NPR (and many others) reported, "Volvo will go all electric by next year". But what Volvo actually said was that they would have a electric or hybrid version of every model by next year. Similar thing with autonomous vehicles, but actual progress is very slow.

Clintonstain
Clintonstain

"the most logical place for driverless vehicles to take hold quickly are airport taxi shuttles and long haul truck driving on interstates. The latter will take off quickly..."

What happens when a tire blows and, oblivious, the truck drives another 300 miles, creating the friction that causes it to catch fire? If a hub seal breaks, leaking all it's oil and the entire tandem catches on fire, how does the computer know? Please reference current technology and not hypotheticals solely meant to defend your ego.

If that happens now, the driver is fired for negligence. You better believe he has skin in the game.

In your desire for reality to match your Star Trek fantasies, you've just created a disaster moving at 65 MPH down the interstate next to innocents who didn't sign up for this additional risk.