Robot cars are coming to Arizona

Arizona has been at the forefront of autonomous vehicle technology, and the growth continues. Last month, grocery giant Kroger and Nuro, a startup working to accelerate the benefits of robots in everyday life, launched a driverless delivery program in Scottsdale.

“Arizona’s been very warming to [this] technology,” Fry’s eCommerce Manager, Darrell Anhel said. “Fry’s is very excited to be the first division in the Kroger family to host this autonomous delivery and we’re just very excited that the mayor and everyone in Scottsdale is very welcoming and encouraging of this and we’re just very excited to see what these findings from Nuro will bring and how we can expand this and really change that customer experience for our Fry’s shoppers going forward.

“Scottsdale is proud to be the home of Kroger and Nuro’s partnership,” Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane said in a press release. “We welcome innovative technology that can benefit the lives of Scottsdale residents. We feel this partnership holds tremendous potential and promise.”

Kroger and Nuro announced their partnership in June.

“Over the last year, there has been a massive change in retail and grocery, and Kroger is leading the pack with new innovations while continuing to provide amazing customer experience,” Nuro representative, Whitney Jencks said.  “In all of our conversations with Kroger, it was clear that our companies were aligned on this shared vision.”

Nuro was started by two ex-Google (now Waymo) engineers who wanted to branch out from using robotics for passenger transportation and help transform local commerce. The company believes it can expand the reach of local commerce, making its product accessible to everyone.

According to Anhel, “one of the great things about Nuro is that with their robotics technology they’re really focused on making that affordable to everyone and bringing that delivery service to everyone and not keeping it at a high price point.”

As of right now, the autonomous deliveries are carried out with Nuro’s self-driving Prius; however, the company plans to introduce its custom R1 driverless vehicle this fall.

“We’re rolling this test out in multiple phases. The first phase is the Prius cars,” Anhel said. “In the fall, we’ll be converting to the second phase, which is the Nuro R1 Robot. That will be the truly first unmanned autonomous vehicle for commercial delivery.”

According to Nuro, the company is proud of its step towards self-driving vehicle delivery.

“[It] is different because it is unmanned,” Jencks said. “The R1 was designed first and foremost for safety, including many innovative features like a narrower profile and front-end designed to protect pedestrians, as well as operating at a lower speed and with full awareness of surroundings. Because it has no passengers, R1 is designed to self-sacrifice.”

Nuro believes its product will provide economic, environmental and convenience benefits.

According to Jencks, “Nuro makes home delivery more accessible and affordable due to its fast service and lower price point than many alternatives. This means more time doing things people want, not running errands. The service will also create jobs: maintaining our fleet of vehicles, picking and packing groceries and managing the service. Additionally, Nuro’s robots are fully electric and designed to batch orders and follow the most efficient route. They reduce pollution and congestion by reducing the total number of cars on the road and replacing them with our low or zero emission vehicles.”

The Fry’s address is 7770 East McDowell Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85257 and customers in the zip-code can order groceries for delivery through the store’s app on Delivery costs a flat fee of $5.95.

Emily Richardson

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