Supermarket chain Asda is trialling the use of self-driving vehicles for customer home deliveries in London.
The trial will see self-driving vehicles from AI-centric autonomous mobility technology company Wayve be used to transport groceries to up to 72,000 households in London, which Asda claims makes it ‘the largest trial in the UK’.
Asda’s Park Royal Store in Northwest London will be the first to test the technology. Logistics Manager has contacted the Store Manager for comment.
Asda started home food deliveries in 1997, later offering other items to customers for home delivery in 2008. The company expanded further into the e-commerce market in 2011 by launching its Grocery Click and Collect service in 2011 and a mobile app for customers. This trial goes one step further; should it be successful, it could open the door for Asda customers to receive their orders without the need for an Asda employee to be in the delivery vehicle.
For now though, an Asda employee and a Wayze safety driver will be in the vehicles for every delivery in the 12-month trial. Neither will be driving as the vehicles are fully autonomous, with the Wayze safety driver there as a precaution and the Asda employee there to ‘load and unload the groceries at the customer’s home’.
The addition of these autonomous vehicles (AVs) to Asda’s fleet will support Asda’s existing home delivery operation at the Park Royal store and will make no change to the customer’s e-commerce experience. The self-driving vehicles will be deployed ‘randomly’, with an online customer in the area having the potential to receive their order via more traditional vehicles or the futuristic autonomous alternative.
Simon Gregg, Senior Vice President of e-commerce at Asda said: “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 and Asda announced their co-operation in 2021, with the vision of ‘integrating autonomy into the online grocery space and learning how the technology can shape the future of last mile delivery’. Wayve’s AI-centric solution, AV2.0, uses deep learning to train its software to predict movement and react accordingly. It converts data inputs from radar and cameras into outputs in the form of driving actions like braking, accelerating, or turning the steering wheel.
Co-founder and Chief Executive of Wayve Alex Kendall expressed: “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.”
In addition to ordering through the Asda website, home delivery is also available from Asda Park Royal via delivery apps Deliveroo, Just Eat, and Uber Eats.