The country’s largest grocery chain has made an entry into the driverless delivery market bringing supermarket food items to customers’ homes in a vehicle with nobody at the wheel. According to an Associated Press news report, the company is apparently doing this to lower delivery costs of everyday items. The launch has not been without hiccups. On the day of the launch, one of the compact cars did not drive as planned at a demonstration because of a dead battery and had to be pushed up a ramp and onto a truck by several people. The driverless cars will be limited to delivering within a mile of the supermarket.
How the Delivery Will Work
Kroger and Nuro announced this week that they would deliver groceries in the Scottsdale area using an autonomous vehicle called the R1, which has no steering wheel and no seats for people. Nuro, a California-based grocery company, will add two of its completely unmanned R1 vehicles to its fleet of manned self-driving vehicles that also deliver groceries. The vehicles travel at speeds of up to 25 mph on residential roads. They will, however, stay clear of main roads or highways.
Customers will place an order on their smartphone or laptop and get a text message when the groceries are on their way. Another message will alert them when the delivery is curbside ready to be picked up. This delivery method is similar to what Domino’s is using to deliver pizzas. Once the vehicle arrives, the customer will receive a code to punch in to open the doors. They will pay a flat fee of $5.95 and can request same-say or next-day delivery. The unmanned delivery vehicles will be followed by a shadow car driven by a person with the ability to stop or control it.
Driverless Cars and Safety Issues
There have been a number of safety concerns regarding driverless cars, which utilize a technology that is still very much evolving. Uber pulled its driverless cars out of Arizona this year after one of the ridesharing service’s robotic vehicles hit and killed a woman as she crossed a darkened street in a Phoenix suburb in March. It was the first death involving a fully autonomous vehicle.
The backup driver who was manning that vehicle was found to be watching streaming shows on her phone right before the crash occurred. Waymo has been offering free rides in the Phoenix area. Earlier this month, the company launched a ridesharing service that will have a person behind the wheel should something go wrong.
Uber pulled its self-driving cars out of Arizona this year after one of the ride-hailing service’s robotic vehicles hit and killed a woman as she crossed a darkened street in a Phoenix suburb in March. It was the first death involving a fully autonomous vehicle. A backup driver was at the wheel.
As auto defect lawyers, we will be closely watching the evolution of driverless cars. While this technology might be inevitable, we strongly believe that these test vehicles should not be put out on the roadway until all glitches are ironed out. Technology, even if it is groundbreaking, shouldn’t come at the cost of public safety and human lives.