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Walmart testing self-driving cars and robots

Walmart testing self-driving cars and robots

Walmart’s vice president of digital operations said late last month that the company plans to pilot an online grocery service with self-driving cars that pick up customers at their homes and take them to the store to collect their orders. Walmart plans to test the service in Chandler, AZ with Waymo, formerly Google’s self-driving car project.

A customer in the pilot program would order his/her groceries at Walmart.com, choose online grocery pickup and select a pickup time. A personal shopper gathers the items, and then a Waymo vehicle picks up the customer, brings him/her to the selected store to get the groceries, and drives the customer back home.

Waymo has also teamed up with shopping center owner DDR, which will offer rides in Waymo self-driving vehicles to Ahwatukee Foothills Towne Center in Chandler.

One week after the announcement, Walmart revealed that it plans to test a program that would have robots bring products to its in-store personal shoppers in an effort to speed up online grocery pickup.

An automated storage and retrieval system, developed by Alert Innovation for Walmart, is being installed at a Walmart supercenter in Salem, NH, where it is adding 20,000 square feet to house the system, warehouse online grocery orders, and serve as a pickup point with drive-thru lanes for customers.

A Walmart spokesperson said that “the vast majority of grocery products we offer in-store will be fulfilled through this system, though our personal shoppers will still hand-pick produce and other fresh items.”

The Salem store remodel will also include pickup towers for online orders; an automated shelf-scanner that helps identify out-of-stock items, incorrect labels and missing labels; and Walmart’s FAST unloader system to get products to the sales floor more quickly.