Autonomous vehicle technology start-up Wayve has partnered with Asda to deliver groceries to customers in London using self-driving vehicles.
The year-long trial will give the supermarket the ability to autonomously deliver groceries to a catchment area of more than 170,000 residents across 72,000 households in the capital.
The Wayve self-driving vehicles will join Asda’s existing online delivery operation at the Park Royal superstore in West London and have the capability to drive themselves to customers’ homes.
Asda Park Royal customers can place their next-day delivery orders online as usual, choosing from the full range of online products and selecting a delivery slot that suits them, the only difference is they could be randomly selected to have their order delivered in a self-driving vehicle.
During the 12-month trial, both an Asda employee and supervising Wayve safety driver will be in the vehicle when making deliveries.
Asda will load and unload the groceries at the customer’s home, but they will be transported from store to the door in a self-driving vehicle.
Asda is the UK’s second largest online supermarket, with more than 20% of the market and delivers more than 800,000 orders every week.
Simon Gregg, vice president of e-commerce at Asda, said: “Asda has long understood the value of bringing tech innovation to the online grocery sector and we are always looking at new and innovative partnerships to improve delivery options for customers.
“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, whilst also adding a unique, reliable and efficient option for Asda customers to have a whole range of products delivered to their doors.”
Wayve’s ‘AV2.0’ solution uses machine learning to train its AI software to learn from experience how to drive in any environment.
This results in AV technology that is not geo-fenced by highly detailed maps or pre-defined routes and can autonomously drive anywhere in its urban domain even to places it’s never been to before, says Wayve.
The system is designed to constantly monitor the road, identifying potential hazards and making the safest decisions possible.
Using this technology to drive anywhere in the designated area, Asda will be able to reach its Park Royal customers from the first day of the trial, it says.
The launch follows a two-year partnership between the retail giant and autonomous vehicle technology start-up that aims to lead the way on developing a self-driving vehicle solution for the grocery market.
Alex Kendall, co-founder and CEO at Wayve, said: “The trial is a demonstration of how autonomy can meet fleet owner needs.
“We started developing our AV technology over five years ago: it’s incredible to see it delivering real value today as part of Asda’s daily operations.
“We value our work with Asda to build the foundations of future autonomous grocery delivery. Trials like this one accelerate our road to deployment.
“They provide the learnings required to bring the benefits of AV technology to customers sooner while ensuring that businesses, like Asda, are prepared to deploy AVs at scale.”
While the Park Royal store is the first to benefit from this technology, Wayve will be able to offer autonomous delivery in further Asda locations should the trial be extended to other areas.