Udelv, a self-driving delivery startup has recently announced that it has partnered up with Walmart to pilot an autonomous grocery delivery service. The Burlingame, California-based company said it was also partnering with Baidu to pilot the Chinese search giant’s latest autonomous driving open platform, Apollo 3.5.
Udelv has been using its fleet of autonomous vans to test grocery delivery with a variety of food markets. Last year, the startup signed a deal to supply Oklahoma City’s largest grocery chain with self-driving vehicles. Previously, the company’s bright orange vans were delivering groceries for the high-end Draeger’s Market chain in the Bay Area city of San Mateo. Udelv said it has completed 1,200 deliveries, and it says it will deliver up to 100 autonomous vans to customers in 2019.
Udelv is also releasing its second-generation delivery vehicle, the Newton, following months of close collaboration between the startup and Baidu, the Google of China. Launched in 2017, Baidu’s Apollo project encompasses both hardware and software, providing partners with the tech and open-source code needed to help their own vehicles perceive obstacles, plan their routes, and otherwise move around our world.
Now Udelv is not the only company that is planning to combine the lucrative grocery delivery industry with self-driving cars. Online grocery shopping could grow five-fold over the next decade, with American consumers spending upward of $100 billion on food-at-home items by 2025, according to a recent report.