Asda has partnered with autonomous vehicle technology start-up Wayve to deliver groceries to customers using self-driving vehicles.
The year-long trial will give the supermarket the ability to autonomously deliver groceries to a catchment area of over 170,000 residents across 72,000 households in London.
The Wayve self-driving vehicles will join Asda’s existing online delivery operation at the Park Royal superstore in West London and have the capability to drive themselves to customers’ homes.
Asda Park Royal 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 they could be randomly selected to have their order delivered in a self-driving vehicle.
During the 12-month trial, both an Asda colleague and supervising Wayve safety driver will be in the vehicle when making deliveries. Asda colleagues will load and unload the groceries at the customer’s home, but they will be transported from the store to the door in a self-driving vehicle.
Asda claims to be the UK’s second largest online supermarket, with over 20% of the market, delivering more than 800k orders every week. It says this is the first trial in the UK that can launch directly into commercial operations, without diverging from the operation of the store’s online delivery processes. The trial enables seamless integration of Wayve’s automated driving technology into Asda’s daily operations.
Wayve’s ‘AV2.0’ solution uses machine learning to train its AI software to learn from experience how to drive in any environment. This results in 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.
Using this technology to drive anywhere in the designated area, Asda will be able to reach its Park Royal customers from the first day of the trial.
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.
Simon Gregg, senior vice president of eCommerce at Asda, said: “Asda has long understood the value of bringing tech innovation to the online grocery sector and we are always looking at new and innovative partnerships to improve delivery options for customers. We believe autonomous technology is an exciting opportunity to shape the future of delivery, not only at our Park Royal store but throughout our nationwide operation.
“Through our partnership with Wayve, we are trialling this technology to understand how it can assist our 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.”