Asda trials self-driving grocery home deliveries

Asda, the UK’s second-largest online supermarket, has teamed up with autonomous vehicle technology start-up Wayve to launch a year-long trial of self-driving grocery delivery vehicles.

The partnership will enable Asda to autonomously deliver groceries to more than 170,000 residents across 72,000 households in London. Wayve’s self-driving vehicles will join Asda’s existing online delivery operation at the Park Royal superstore in West London and have the ability to drive themselves to customers’ homes.

Asda customers can place their next-day delivery orders online as usual, choosing from the full range of online products and selecting a delivery slot that suits them. The only difference is that they could be randomly selected to have their order delivered in a self-driving vehicle. During the 12-month trial, both an Asda employee and supervising Wayve safety driver will be in the vehicle when making deliveries.

Asda will load and unload the groceries at the customer’s home, but they will be transported from store to the door in a self-driving vehicle. Simon Gregg, vice president of e-commerce at Asda, said that autonomous technology offers an exciting opportunity to shape the future of delivery, not only at the Park Royal store but throughout the company’s nationwide operation. He added that the partnership with Wayve is a trial to understand how it can assist Asda’s busy store operations, while also adding a unique, reliable and efficient option for Asda customers to have a whole range of products delivered to their doors.

Wayve’s ‘AV2.0’ solution uses machine learning to train its AI software to learn from experience how to drive in any environment. This allows AV technology that is not geo-fenced by highly detailed maps or pre-defined routes and can autonomously drive anywhere in its urban domain, even to places it’s never been to before. The system is designed to constantly monitor the road, identifying potential hazards and making the safest decisions possible.

Alex Kendall, co-founder and CEO at Wayve, said that the trial is a demonstration of how autonomy can meet fleet owner needs. Wayve’s AV technology has been in development for over five years, and Kendall said it’s incredible to see it delivering real value as part of Asda’s daily operations. The trial will accelerate the road to deployment of AV technology to customers sooner, while ensuring that businesses, like Asda, are prepared to deploy AVs at scale.

The launch follows a two-year partnership between the retail giant and autonomous vehicle technology start-up that aims to lead the way on developing a self-driving vehicle solution for the grocery market. While the Park Royal store is the first to benefit from this technology, Wayve will be able to offer autonomous delivery in further Asda locations should the trial be extended to other areas.

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