Nuro is taking its self-driving delivery vehicles to Houston, Texas where the company’s on-demand service will be available through the grocer Kroger. The program’s launch follows Nuro’s successful financing from SoftBank Vision Fund for $940 million, bringing its total funding to $1 billion from partners that also include Greylock Partners and Gaorong Capital. Initially the self-driving delivery service will be available to Kroger customers in the 77401 and 77096 zip codes in Houston for a fee of $5.95. Customers will be able to shop for their groceries online or via the app, schedule the delivery, and meet the vehicle at the curb.
The company’s pilot program was launched in Scottsdale, Arizona where it partnered with Fry’s Food. Nuro told CleanTechnica in an email that over the course of the program it has “safely and successfully completed thousands of deliveries to Fry’s customers.” Though the Scottsdale delivery pilot has concluded, the company will continue to develop and test self-driving technology in the area.
Now, Houston will get the chance to test out the autonomous grocery delivery system. Deliveries will be made with self-driving Toyota Prius’ up until Nuro’s custom vehicles, the R1, are introduced in the city later this year. Each vehicle can hold 6 grocery bags in each of its two compartments and can travel unmanned on public roads.
Eventually, the company plans to deliver more than groceries or take-out, and sees the service as an important stepping-stone in the future of autonomous vehicles. “Nuro envisions a world without errands, where everything is on-demand and can be delivered affordably,” said Nuro President and co-founder Dave Ferguson in a press release. “Operating a delivery service using our custom unmanned vehicles is an important first step toward that goal.”