Walmart Will Be Trying Out This Futuristic Delivery Method In 2021

Innovation seems to move pretty quickly for a company like Walmart. Back in March, when Janey Whiteside, the company's Chief Customer Officer talked about "no contact pickup and delivery", she was specifically talking about having store associates load groceries into the back of a car and for delivery drivers to leave orders on their customers' doorsteps (via Walmart). Today, thanks to technology and innovation, "no contact" and "driverless" have different meanings for the company, which has been testing new ways to deliver the goods both quickly and safely.

The company says it's ready to use driverless trucks to make deliveries as early as next year and that it's working with a startup to do it. Walmart and Gatik have actually been testing these trucks for some time now, and the company says it's clocked 70,000 miles with the vehicles with a safety driver on standby. Walmart has been testing this new technology in Bentonville, Arkansas for the last 18 months and says it's ready to deploy the trucks without a safety driver. A second test route has been identified in Louisiana between New Orleans and Metairie, but these trucks will be deployed with a safety driver for now (via The Verge). 

Walmart also has a test fleet of drones and driverless cars at its disposal

Walmart's promise to go contactless feels like it escalated pretty quickly, and in a sense, it has. In September, Walmart began testing its drone delivery program in North Carolina, with each drone capable of flying at speeds of 32 mph, go to distances as far as 6.2 miles, and carry up to 6.6 lbs of cargo – which The Verge has compared to the weight of six to eight hamburgers (no word on whether the burgers had all the fixings, or if fries are included with that). Walmart is even working with a startup called Nuro to deliver groceries to residents in Houston, Texas robotically. Customers who opt into the service can either get their goods delivered by a Prius or a prototype 2020s vehicle with the retro feel of a 1970s lunchbox.

In a blog post announcing the autonomous trucks, Walmart's SVP of Customer Product said, "Our trials with Gatik are just two of many use cases we're testing with autonomous vehicles, and we're excited to continue learning how we might incorporate them in a delivery ecosystem." Welcome to the brave new world, courtesy of Walmart.