Technology 3 min read

Nuro Rolls Out Autonomous Delivery System in Houston

Houston locals may be familiar with the grocery store Kroger. Well, starting this week, you can get your groceries delivered by the Nuro autonomous delivery robot. While there is no minimum order amount, this is a ~$6 delivery fee. Is this the beginning of autonomous last-mile delivery?

Nuro could be the first company to truly kickstart the autonomous delivery revolution. ¦ Nuro

Nuro could be the first company to truly kickstart the autonomous delivery revolution. ¦ Nuro

We inch ever closer to a fully automated future every day. Houston, Texas, seeks to position itself as a leader in the tech community. Having been focused on energy for decades, its booming medical industry needs a vibrant, forward-thinking business infrastructure to support it.

As such, it is no surprise that Nuro expanded into the city this week. For those unfamiliar with Nuro, it offers autonomous delivery for the “last mile” of things. This is something many shipping companies struggle with price-wise because it can be more expensive comparatively.

That’s why many companies like FedEx outsource the last leg of delivery to other companies. This includes the United States Postal Service and local courier companies. Or, if you’re Amazon, contractors with very “hit or miss” performance.

Nuro naturally fills this gap with their adorable delivery robot.

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The Nuro vehicle accommodates a decent array of item configurations, fitting up to six standard grocery bags. | Nuro

Recapturing Customers Through New Technology

The startup partnered with Kroger last year, competing with Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods. This means that Nuro theoretically has access to all of Kroger’s assets. This includes Smith’s, Dillons, Ralphs, and more.

Nuro originally started their experiment in Scottsdale, Arizona. Now, two Kroger stores serving four zip codes will implement a similar process to test the Houston market. However, the deliveries won’t feature the above robot until later this year; for now, expect self-driving Toyota Prius cars.

Once implemented, the Nuro cars can fit up to six standard grocery bags.

As mentioned, there is no minimum order amount, but you do have a $5.95 delivery fee. You can place orders via Kroger.com or by using their mobile app.  They also allow for same-day or next-day delivery times.

In a market dominated by local vendors such as HEB, Kroger may edge ahead with this addition.

Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda (right) and SoftBank Group Corp. Chairman Masayoshi Son (left). | AP

Big Business Support for Long-Term Vision

Japanese company SoftBank helped make this expansion possible. They funded Nuro with a $940-million round through their SoftBank Vision Fund. Since Nuro plans to expand further, the support from the established company (and association with Toyota) should prove beneficial.

As for steps beyond Kroger, Nuro plans to pitch their last-mile delivery to other companies, too. This includes other services which might benefit from delivery including dry-cleaning.

Read More: Station Houston and Mayor Turner Want Houston Innovation

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Juliet Childers

Content Specialist and EDGY OG with a (mostly) healthy obsession with video games. She covers Industry buzz including VR/AR, content marketing, cybersecurity, AI, and many more.

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