Asda has announced plans to trial a fleet of self-driving delivery vans across the UK as it seeks to automate its supply chain in the wake of the driver shortage crisis.
Asda has partnered with self-driving startup Wayve to roll out the autonomous delivery trial, which will take place for 12 months across London starting in early 2022.
This will mark the first commercial roll out of Wayve’s technology, which unlike other self-driving systems that rely on HD maps and AV stacks, uses data sets built in other cities to navigate busy urban areas such as London.
It is understood that the system will be retrofitted to Asda’s existing customer fleet.
The move comes amid a surge in the adoption of new technologies across the grocery sector following the coronavirus pandemic and its dramatic spike in demand for online groceries and more contactless shopping.
Yesterday Aldi became the third major UK supermarket to announce plans to launch its own autonomous grocery store, aiming to keep pace with Amazon’s rapid expansion into the sector this year.
“We want to explore how autonomous vehicle technology can enhance our operating model as well as the experience for our colleagues and customers,” Asda’s vice president of online grocery Simon Gregg said.
“We are pleased to partner with Wayve on this trial. Over the course of the last year, demand for online groceries has grown significantly, and we continue to push new boundaries in terms of retail innovation and technologies that can help us develop the most sustainable last mile solutions for our business.”
Wayve’s chief executive Alex Kendall added: “Last mile delivery represents an ideal first use case for the Wayve Driver, which can navigate the complexities of urban driving and easily adapt to new routes.
“We are excited to be working with Asda as our first commercial partner. They have a proven track record of delivering innovations in online grocery shopping that improve customer experiences. This makes them an ideal partner to support the development of autonomous vehicle technology.”