First they brought us staffless supermarkets, now they’re bringing us driverless big shop deliveries. If you live in west London you could get your Asda shop delivered in a driver-free car. The Royal Park superstore is trialling food deliveries to 72,000 households in self-driving vans, but a staff member and safety driver will still be present in each vehicle to make sure everything runs smoothly.
The year-long trial by Asda in partnership with automated vehicle company Wayve is thought to be the biggest of its kind in the UK.
Staff will still be there to unload the shopping at the customer’s door, but they will be transported ‘from store to the door’ in the self-driving vehicle.
You might be thinking, what’s the point in all this if a Wayve driver has to be present for safety anyway? Well, the trial will help in the development and learnings around automated vehicle technology, potentially paving the way for deliveries totally sans drivers in the future.
Simon Gregg, senior vice president of eCommerce at Asda, said: ‘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.’
Wayve’s driverless vehicle technology uses machine learning that allows its AI software to learn to drive in any environment, including places where vehicles have not been before. The company says the system constantly monitors the road, identifying potential hazards so that it makes ‘the safest decisions possible’.
According to Alex Kendall, co-founder and chief executive at Wayve, the firm first ‘started developing its AV technology over five years ago’.
‘Trials like this one accelerate our road to deployment. They provide the learnings required to bring the benefits of AV technology to customers sooner,’ he said.
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