Nuro and Kroger are deploying self-driving cars for grocery delivery in Arizona today

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Self-driving car startup Nuro is ready to put autonomous vehicles on the road in partnership with Kroger to deliver groceries in Scottsdale, Arizona. This comes a couple of months after Nuro and Kroger announced their partnership to offer same-day deliveries.

This pilot will serve a single Fry’s Food and Drug location in Scottsdale starting today. Customers can shop for groceries and place either same- or next-day delivery orders via the grocer’s website or mobile app. There’s no minimum order but there is a flat delivery fee of $5.95.

“We’re proud to contribute and turn our vision for local commerce into a real, accessible service that residents of Scottsdale can use immediately,” Nuro CEO Dave Ferguson said in a statement. “Our goal is to save people time, while operating safely and learning how we can further improve the experience.”

Nuro’s intent is to use its self-driving technology in the last mile for the delivery of local goods and services. That could be things like groceries, dry cleaning, an item you left at a friend’s house or really anything within city limits that can fit inside one of Nuro’s vehicles. Nuro has two compartments that can fit up to six grocery bags each. 

In Scottsdale, however, Nuro will initially use Toyota Prius cars before introducing its custom self-driving vehicles. That’s because the main purpose of this pilot is to learn, and using the Prius self-driving fleet can help to accelerate those learnings, a Nuro spokesperson told TechCrunch.

“The Priuses share many software and hardware systems with the R1 custom vehicle, so while we compete final certification and testing of the R1, the Prius will begin delivering groceries and help us improve the overall service and customer experience,” the spokesperson said.

When it came to going to market, Ferguson previously told me groceries were most exciting to him. And Kroger particularly stood out because of its smart shelf technology and partnership with Ocado around automated fulfillment centers.

“With the pilot, we’re excited about getting more experience interacting with real customers and understanding exactly what they want,” Ferguson told me. “The things they love about it, the things they don’t love as much. As an organization for us, it’s also very valuable for us to have to exercise our operational muscle.”

Throughout the pilot program, Nuro will be looking to see how accurate its estimated delivery times are, how the public reacts to the vehicles and how regular, basic cars interact with self-driving ones.

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