The US-based retail giant Walmart is partnering with the American automaker General Motors (GM) to use it’s autonomous vehicle fleet under GM’s subsidiary Cruise to make product pickups and deliveries.
Walmart is expected to begin its pilot program with autonomous Cruise delivery vehicles from early 2021 in the Arizona state. While it is still unclear how many Cruise units will be used for the program. The Duo had earlier conducted a five-vehicle trial in Phoenix, Arizona.
In an official statement, Tom Ward, Walmart’s SVP of customer products remarked that “Technology has the potential to not only save customers time and money but also is helpful to the planet is the technology we want to learn more about.”
The retail giant observed that choosing Cruise to partner with the initiative was a deliberate move due to the automaker’s commitment to powering its fleet of electric vehicles with 100% renewable energy.
Walmart said that the initiative will help it achieve its own sustainability goals of reaching zero emissions by 2040. The project also entails other peripheral benefits such as contactless deliveries to lessen the spread of COVID-19.
While Walmart customers in Scottsdale, Arizona would be able to place orders and get them delivered at home through a self-driving cruise in early 2021, it remains to be seen whether the car will have a backup driver or any human presence.
Earlier in October, Californian authorities have permissions for Cruise to operate its fleet in the state without an occupant.
Walmart has explored other collaborations as well with several other partners to expand its modes of delivery. It conducted similar autonomous vehicle delivery trails with other vendors such as Nuro in Houston, Texas during December 2019.