Self-Driving Grocery Delivery Pods Are Coming To The Streets Of Houston, Texas

  • Nick Jaynes has worked for more than a decade in automotive media industry. In that time, he's done it all—from public relations for Chevrolet to new-car reviews for Mashable. Nick now lives in Portland, Oregon and spends his weekends traversing off-road trails in his 100 Series Toyota Land Cruiser.

can be reached at nickjaynes@gmail.com
  • Nick Jaynes has worked for more than a decade in automotive media industry. In that time, he's done it all—from public relations for Chevrolet to new-car reviews for Mashable. Nick now lives in Portland, Oregon and spends his weekends traversing off-road trails in his 100 Series Toyota Land Cruiser.

can be reached at nickjaynes@gmail.com
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If you’re a patron of one of two Houston, Texas-area Kroger grocery stories, you will soon be able to get you groceries delivered to your home by a self-driving pod.

Kroger and self-driving pod maker Nuro have teamed up to launch an autonomous grocery delivery program in Houston, Texas. For just $5.99, customers of Kroger’s South Post Oak Road and Buffalo Speedway locations will be able to log on to the store’s website or mobile app and order groceries delivered to their home by a Nuro self-driving vehicle.

The Pre-Autonomous Prii

A Pseudo-Nuro-delivery-self-driving-pod, also known as a Toyota Prius with extra sensors and a human behind the wheel for emergency situations, will begin the program with fully autonomous vehicles added later..

At first, the groceries will be delivered by one of Nuro’s self-driving Prii (official plural of Prius). Later, Nuro’s R1 driverless pods will replace the Prii.

“Initially, we are going to start delivering with our self-driving Prius vehicles, so these are passenger vehicles just like regular Priuses [sic] that we’ve added sensing and computing to so they can drive themselves,” said Nuro co-founder and president Dave Ferguson in an interview with ABC13. “There will still be safety drivers in them.”

This isn’t Nuro’s first grocery delivery program, however. The startup, which was founded by two ex-Google autonomous tech engineers, launched its first such program in Scottsdale, Arizona. Like in Houston, the Scottsdale pilot was driven first by automated Prii. Within four months, however, R1s took over delivery duties by December of 2018.

Autonomos Shopping Cart

Nuro R1 self-driving delivery pod is big enough for groceries, but the vehicle itself looks smaller than a Costco shopping cart.

The R1 pods are small and unobtrusive. They stand six feet tall and slightly less wide than an average sedan. They are designed to carry only cargo and can hold 12 standard-size grocery bags.

Three in four Americans are reportedly afraid of self-driving vehicles. Hopefully harmless, low-risk delivery pods like Nuro’s R1 can help turn the tide of public opinion, like it did for Nuro’s first customers in the below marketing video.


About the Author

  • Nick Jaynes has worked for more than a decade in automotive media industry. In that time, he's done it all—from public relations for Chevrolet to new-car reviews for Mashable. Nick now lives in Portland, Oregon and spends his weekends traversing off-road trails in his 100 Series Toyota Land Cruiser.

can be reached at nickjaynes@gmail.com
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