April 20, 2023
British supermarket giant Asda has teamed up with self-driving company Wayve to launch what is being billed as Europe’s largest autonomous urban grocery delivery trial.
Over the course of the next 12 months, more than 170,000 residents across 72,000 households in the vicinity of Asda’s Park Royal store in West London could have their shopping delivered by one of Wayve’s autonomous Jaguar i-Pace models.
Customers will simply place their online orders in the normal fashion, select a timeslot – and then could be randomly selected to have their delivery fulfilled by one of the self-driving cars.
Although the Wayve Jaguars have full autonomous capability, they will be occupied by a safety driver and an Asda member of staff during the trial. The former will monitor the car’s safe progress on the road; the latter will assist in unloading the groceries at the customer’s home.
The vehicles make use of Wayve’s AV2.0 tech. According to the London-based start-up, its solution “uses machine learning, eliminating the need for expensive and complex robotic stacks that require highly-detailed maps and programmed rules.”
The result is claimed to be technology that learns from experience and is not geo-fenced by predefined routes, allowing the vehicles to autonomously drive in any environment – even to places they have not been to before.
By using its data-driven AI Driver, Wayve can convert data inputs from cameras and radar into driving outputs through one neural network integrated into a vehicle. The system constantly monitors the road, identifying potential hazards and making the safest decisions possible. Ultimately, Wayve believes, this approach offers the promise of a more scalable way to deliver self-driving.
Asda is the United Kingdom’s second largest online supermarket, with more than 20% of the market, delivering more than 800,000 orders nationally every week, and the trial’s launch is the culmination of a two-year partnership between the two companies.
“We’re excited to partner with Asda on the largest urban autonomous grocery delivery trial in Europe,” said Alex Kendall, Wayve’s co-founder and CEO. “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.”
Simon Gregg, senior vice president of eCommerce at Asda, added: “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 trialing 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.”
Although the Park Royal store is the first to benefit from the tech, Wayve will be able to offer autonomous delivery in further Asda locations should the trial be extended.
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