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The Silicon Valley Business Journal reports that Kroger is partnering with startup Nuro to test a program that will allow it to deliver groceries to customers via a driverless vehicle.

According to the story, “Nuro will work with Kroger in the first application and deployment of its software in a test market that will be named in the coming weeks. The pilot program is expected to launch this fall. During the test, customers can place orders through Kroger’s ClickList online ordering system and Nuro’s app for delivery.”

Reuters writes that “the test of Nuro’s ‘RI’ van, which is shaped like a rounded, silver lunch box, comes as Kroger and other store-based food retailers are racing to catch up with or gain an advantage over online retailer Inc, which sent grocery sellers scrambling to add home delivery after its $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods Market last year.”

The van id described as “half the width and about two-thirds the length of a Toyota Corolla and will travel at a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour.”

In a prepared statement, Kroger CFO Yael Cosset said that “partnering with Nuro … will create customer value by providing Americans access to fast and convenient delivery at a fair price.”
KC's View:
Well, maybe not that fast if the van can only do 25 MPH.

But … it may take time for all the regulatory approvals to come through so this works, but clearly this is the act of a retailer that is intent on making up time and distance. It’ll be interesting to see how Nuro matches up with Ocado’s robotics and automated warehouses.

It is the beginning of a big swing, which is the kind fo swing retailers have to make in the current environment.