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Walmart to use self-driving vehicles to transport shoppers

Close up of Waymo self driving car performing tests

Walmart shoppers can now enjoy more convenient grocery shopping as the multinational retail company has partnered with Google’s former self-driving project Waymo to create a new transportation service designed for shoppers. The innovative service will utilize self-driving cars to conveniently take shoppers to and from their local store.

One of today’s leading self-driving companies

Originally created as a self-driving car project for Google back in 2009, Waymo is now an independent self-driving tech company whose main goal is to provide a safer and easier way to get around – without anyone on the driver’s seat.

Their self-driving vehicles have safely logged more than eight million miles on roads in over 25 cities across the US today.

Walmart partnered with the company to open an online grocery pilot project to an exclusive group within 400 daily Waymo users in Chandler, Arizona. Customers who were included in the pilot simply used Walmart’s Online Grocery Pickup to place an order. As soon as an order is placed, Walmart’s personal shoppers will than collect all the items included in the order based on their designated pickup schedules.

Waymo will then transport customers to and from pickup while they take a quick nap, get some work done, read a book, and so on, as Walmart employees put together all of their items within the store. Once they arrive, a Walmart employee will personally deliver their groceries while they’re inside the self-driving vehicle.

Harnessing technology for more convenient shopping

“The purpose of this is to learn,” says Tom Ward, Walmart’s vice president of e-commerce operations in a blog post. “While giving customers a unique experience with amazing technology, we’re learning how we can make Walmart online grocery pickup even more convenient. Waymo’s experience, industry-leading technology and mission on safety is helping us enter this space in the right way. We’re excited to see what this pilot and the future hold.”

Partnerships with other companies

Waymo is also partnering with other companies which may benefit from their self-driving cars, such as Avis, AutoNation, Element Hotel, and DDR Corp.

Avis’s locations in Chandler, Arizona will use Waymo to transport customers picking up or returning their rental cars. AutoNation will lend their customers a Waymo self-driving vehicle while their personal car is currently being serviced. Guests staying at Element Hotel can use Waymo vehicles to get around the area during their stay at the hotel. And customers looking to shop at a DDR shopping venue now have the option to ride in a Waymo so they won’t need to drive and park on their shopping trip.

Better market on the horizon for fully autonomous cars

Waymo’s new partnerships arrive just as some of the top automakers and technology firms, including Tesla and GM, are making efforts to further develop the market for self-driving vehicles. Some of the most innovative automakers are looking into launching new services which include ride-hailing apps and car sharing networks which involve autonomous vehicles.

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