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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Largest US grocer Kroger tests driverless vehicle deliveries

Shoppers can order groceries online or via a mobile app for same-day or next-day delivery to their home

Kroger is testing the Nuro R1 vehicle in Scottsdale, Arizona. Reuters
Kroger is testing the Nuro R1 vehicle in Scottsdale, Arizona. Reuters

Kroger will begin testing grocery deliveries using driverless cars outside Phoenix.

The biggest US grocery chain said the project began on Thursday in Scottsdale at a Fry's supermarket, which is owned by Kroger.

Shoppers can order groceries online or via a mobile app for same-day or next-day delivery to their home.

Kroger, based in Cincinnati, is partnering Nuro, a Silicon Valley start-up founded by two engineers who worked on autonomous vehicles at Google, according to the grocer's CEO Rodney Mullen.

Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen at the supermarket company's headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S., June 28, 2018. Picture taken June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Lisa Baertlein
Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen. Reuters

That Google project is called Waymo, which started its own pilot programme last month at Walmart stores in Phoenix.

Waymo is also testing self-driving cars as a way to help commuters get to their closest public transit stop in the city.

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The Kroger tests come as cities including Dubai push to bring robot cars to the streets. This week, The National reported the emirate's Roads and Transport Authority department said it had endorsed standards of testing for electric, hybrid and self-driving vehicles that will ensure Dubai is “pioneering” in the field.

The government body revealed that autonomous vehicles will be a fixture on the city's roads in the "near future" - though it is still not known when the driverless fleet will be rolled out for public use.

“RTA has endorsed the testing standards of electric, hybrid and self-driving vehicles in line with the best standards applied in leading countries in this regard worldwide,” said Abdullah Yousef Al Ali, chief executive of RTA’s Licensing Agency.

The RTA has held 66 workshops with vehicle manufacturers, approved testing centres in Dubai and consultancy companies in the UAE to review and discuss the new standards.

“For self-driving vehicles, the technical testing standards and related technologies will ensure the primacy and pioneering role of Dubai in this class of vehicles,” said Mr Al Ali.