Waymo and Walmart Offer Self-Driving Grocery Pick-Up (3 Questions)

Through the new Waymo Walmart partnership, Walmart provides grocery pick-up to the Chandler, Arizona area with Waymo's self-driving vehicles. The autonomous cars take customers to pick up groceries they ordered online.

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Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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UPDATED: Sep 15, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Walmart partnered with Waymo to offer rides to pick up groceries ordered online
  • The service is open to participants in Waymo’s “early rider” program
  • Currently, the Walmart location in Chandler, Arizona, is the only place this grocery pick-up service is offered

The convenience of grocery pick-up where you order online and have a store employee deliver your order to your car is appealing, and the movement is picking up steam as more people are using it and more stores are offering it.

Walmart is launching a pilot program that takes grocery pick-up to a new level of convenience. They partnered with Waymo, formerly the Google self-driving car project, to provide customers a ride in a self-driving vehicle from their front door to the store and back.

This type of service may become mainstream, but for now, most people will have to continue driving themselves in their own vehicles the traditional way, so make sure you have enough car insurance by comparing quotes using our free rate tool above.

Who can access this grocery pick-up service?

Waymo has an “early rider” program in which selected applicants have access to Waymo self-driving rides. Twenty thousand people have applied and there are 400 active participants.

The Walmart grocery service is available for active participants of the “early rider” program. This is the process a participant can expect when ordering from Walmart:

  • A customer orders their groceries online
  • A Walmart personal shopper fills the order
  • The customer hails a Waymo self-driving vehicle to pick the customer up and drive to Walmart
  • A Walmart employee delivers the order to the car
  • The self-driving car takes the customer and the purchases back to the pick-up location

A couple questions may come to mind, like, “Why wouldn’t the vehicle just drop off the groceries at the location?” And,  “Is it really more convenient to be picked up from and dropped off at the same location when I normally pick up groceries on my way home from work?”

It truly doesn’t make as much sense to have a vehicle make two trips to transport a customer when one trip to deliver goods would accomplish the same thing.

But, remember, the program is part of the “early rider” project and goods delivery doesn’t fit the objective of a ride service.

Maybe Walmart had to work with what was available and as self-driving cars grow in popularity, the programs offered will fit the objectives of both Walmart and their customers more adequately.

Perhaps part of the intention of the program is just to get people used to the novelty of riding in self-driving cars and to gather data about how people use the service.

As the technology and user-readiness advances, the process will likely become more streamlined and convenient, especially if the users indicate those desires. As a pilot program, kinks are expected and effort will likely be made to smooth them out.

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Where is this grocery pick-up service offered?

Since this program is in its pilot phase, it is only available at one location, Chandler, Arizona (near Phoenix).

Earlier this year, Arizona’s governor signed an executive order allowing autonomous vehicles on Arizona roadways with the only restriction being that they follow traffic laws.

Following that executive order, Arizona has become a center for self-driving pilot programs and testing.

Even though Uber has stopped using Arizona as part of its pilot program after an incident earlier this year involving a pedestrian fatality, Arizona has remained a hub for self-driving advancements and programs thanks to their lack of strict regulations.

Waymo recently joined with Chrysler to launch a ride-hailing service using 600 self-driving Pacificas centered in Phoenix with the plans to launch thousands more.

Arizona’s autonomous vehicle friendly laws (or, really, lack of laws and restrictions) helped make them the ideal location for Walmart to test their new grocery pick-up service.

If you’re not one of the 400 participants in the “early rider” program, you’re out of luck for now, but don’t be surprised if this service is expanded and offered to more people in more areas soon.

Based on the success of and feedback from the program, Walmart (as well as other retailers) will likely offer similar services to more customers.

Are any other companies offering similar grocery pick-up services?

Waymo recently announced four more partnerships just in the Phoenix area:

  • AutoNation will offer customers rides in a Waymo van as an option in place of allowing them to use a traditional loaner vehicle while their personal vehicle is being serviced.
  • Ahwatukee Foothills Towne Center will soon offer rides for customers to shop at their location.
  • The Element Hotel will offer Waymo rides to their guests.
  • Avis Budget will offer rides to people picking up and dropping off rental cars.

These programs are not pilot programs and are likely to be offered permanently. The real estate company that owns the Ahwatukee Foothills Towne Center also owns nearly 200 other retail centers, and could foreseeably offer similar programs at other locations.

Phoenix is a hub for this technology, but there are also several other cities with autonomous vehicle programs in place. As the services gain success and popularity, they will expand throughout the country.

While waiting for your chance to participate in an autonomous ride service, make sure your current car insurance is up to date and that you’re not overpaying for the coverage you need.

Use our free rate tool below to compare quotes quickly and easily.

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