UK grocery retailer Asda has announced a new partnership with autonomous mobility company Wayve to launch what the pair call the UK’s largest autonomous grocery home shopping delivery trial.
The London-based pilot will last one year and will enable Asda to autonomously deliver groceries to a catchment area of more than 170,000 residents across 72,000 homes.
The self-driving vehicles will be added to Asda’s existing online delivery offering and deliver out of the Park Royal superstore in West London. The vehicles can autonomously drive themselves to households, with customers in the Park Royal catchment area able to place next-day delivery orders as per usual.
Simon Gregg, senior 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.”
Throughout the trial, both an Asda employee and a Wayve safety driver will be in the vehicle during deliveries.
The Asda team member will be responsible for loading and unloading the groceries at the customer’s home, but they will be transported from the store to the door in a self-driving vehicle.
Wayve’s ‘AV2.0’ solution uses machine learning to train its artificial intelligence (AI) software to learn from experience how to drive in any environment.
This means the vehicle’s AV technology is not geo-fenced by maps or pre-defined routes. Asda claims this means it can autonomously drive anywhere in its urban domain even to places it’s never been to before.
The system is designed to constantly monitor the road, identify potential hazards and make 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.
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: “We’re excited to partner with Asda on the largest urban autonomous grocery delivery trial in Europe. 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.”
This partnership between the two companies dates back to 2021.
While the Park Royal store is the first to benefit from this technology, Wayve hopes to offer autonomous delivery in further Asda locations, should the trial be expanded.