Walmart, Nuro Advance Autonomous Grocery Deliveries
Self-driving vehicle maker Nuro has raised $500 million in a Series C funding round.
The round was led by T. Rowe Price Associates Inc., with participation from such new investors as Fidelity Management & Research Co., LLC and Baillie Gifford. Existing investors SoftBank Vision Fund 1 and Greylock are also investing in the round.
Mountain View, California-based Nuro has developed two generations of its lightweight autonomous delivery vehicle, according to company co-founder Jiajun Zhu.
R2, Nuro’s second-generation vehicle, received the first and only federal exemption for an autonomous vehicle granted by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). R2 was also the first vehicle to operate fully autonomously on public roads in three states — California, Texas and Arizona — with no drivers, no occupants and no chase cars.
“We now know that our industry, self-driving local delivery, will not only make it easier to buy groceries, hot food, prescription drugs and other products, but will also positively impact local economies and serve low-income communities living in food deserts,” Zhu said. “And during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have learned that contactless delivery of goods — the service R2 provides — can help reduce the spread. The underlying need and excitement for a better way of moving local goods is shared by our growing list of partners, including Domino’s, Walmart, Kroger and CVS.”
Meanwhile, Walmart is working with San Francisco-based Cruise, an autonomous vehicle company, to test grocery deliveries in Arizona.
“We may be growing delivery options today, but we’re still experimenting with new ways we can use technology to serve customers in the future,” said Tom Ward, SVP of customer product, Walmart U.S. “This time, we’re cruising over to Scottsdale, Arizona, to rev up a new pilot with self-driving car company Cruise. What’s unique about Cruise is they’re the only self-driving car company to operate an entire fleet of all-electric vehicles powered with 100% renewable energy, which supports our road to zero emissions by 2040.”
As part of the pilot, which begins early next year, customers can place an order from their local store and have it delivered, contact-free, via one of Cruise’s all-electric self-driving cars.
Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart operates more than 11,300 stores under 58 banners in 27 countries, and e-commerce websites, employing 2.2 million-plus associates worldwide. Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer's list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, while Walmart-owned Sam's Club ranks No. 9 on the list.