An agreement has been signed between Waymo – the automotive subsidiary of Google – and US retail giant Walmart. The two big names are in the process of perfecting an autonomous car service to make it easier for Walmart customers to do their shopping, thus enabling the retailer to compete with the constant innovations of Amazon, and Waymo to expand their fleet of autonomous vehicles and make them more widely available for more uses in day-to-day life.
Walmart unveiled a partnership on 24 July with Google subsidiary Waymo to implement autonomous vehicles in Arizona to help its customer base with their shopping. This futuristic service will enable users who live in the region to make their purchases on line and then take an autonomous vehicle to Walmart to pick them up. An initial test phase is being planned for 400 customers who will get free access to the service, reports French financial daily Les Échos.
Strong competition between Walmart and Amazon
This new project is the result of the technological rivalry between Walmart and Amazon, which has set a precedent in the food industry in recent years with its no-check-out supermarket concept and its buy-out of the organic Whole Foods chain. Walmart has reacted by including around 100 new cities to its delivery service.
The chain has also implemented personal shoppers – employees who collect articles that have been ordered and put them directly in the store’s car-park for customers to collect. Autonomous vehicles meanwhile have been part of Walmart’s plans since 2017, with 15 driverless Tesla trucks on pre-order for the USA and Canada, the New York Times reports.
Waymo operations across Arizona
Beyond this collaboration, Waymo is also looking at a whole series of operations to implant its technology into the daily lives of users and increase the number of its autonomous vehicles on the streets of Arizona. The Google subsidiary has just acquired 20,000 Jaguar Land Rover cars and 60,000 Fiat Chrysler trucks which it will be fitting with cameras and sensors. This enormous fleet of driverless vehicles is currently being tested in the city of Phoenix as well as in California, Texas and Washington State.
Waymo has also announced the launch of four other projects in the Phoenix area. Customers of AutoNation garages will be offered a Waymo autonomous vehicle as a courtesy car while theirs is being repaired. These vehicles will also be made available to Avis car hire customers, while others will be offered to customers of a local shopping mall to go out to the food court, and finally by a hotel for its guests to travel into the city.
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