From the Dallas Morning News:
Kroger is about to add another layer of automation to its customers’ online grocery orders filled by robots at its new $55 million fulfillment center in southern Dallas.
"California-based Gatik is pitching its autonomous vehicle deliveries as a way for retailers to cut costs and save time in their constant effort to be in stock by using frequent deliveries from small self-driving trucks instead of big semitrailers.
"For Kroger, Gatik will increase same-day pick-up slots, delivery frequency and allow for longer cutoff times for when customers can place online grocery orders. Completed online grocery orders will be transported to Kroger stores for customers to pick up or have delivered."
For the moment, safety drivers will be in the more than two dozen vehicles now on the road, but the companies expect that the vehicles will be truly autonomous by the end of next year.
"Starting this spring, four self-driving trucks will be making deliveries to three Kroger stores," the Morning News writes. "The trucks will travel seven days a week, 12 hours a day to make multiple runs from Kroger’s new fulfillment center in southern Dallas … Kroger is also using the facility to ship orders to hubs in Oklahoma City, Austin and San Antonio, which are markets where it doesn’t have stores."
- KC's View:
This is progress, the kind that is really important at a time when truck drivers are in short supply. Making the trucks autonomous and adjusting the infrastructure so it doesn't depend on gigantic tractor trailers makes a lot of sense.