Waymo and Walmart Aim to Self-Drive Shoppers to Stores

Google-owned Waymo is teaming up with Walmart, amongst others, to trial its self-driving cars in Arizona

Waymo plans to partner with a number of businesses across the US to trial its self-driving cars in real-world scenarios that will help it build up data and expertise. Foremost amongst these is Walmart. Waymo will pick up Walmart customers who have ordered goods online from Walmart.com and then use their self-driving cars to pick up these customers and drive them to and from the stores in trial locations.

In return for getting consumers to participate in what Waymo calls its ‘early rider program’, riders will get discounts on their online shopping.

The trials are focused in Phoenix, Arizona and will encompass a number of other brands, including Avis/Autonation, DDR Corp, and a local hotel. In each of these cases Waymo vehicles will perform smaller journeys between typical locations for the businesses. For Avis Waymo will “provide Waymos as a last mile solution for Avis customers in Phoenix to help them pick up or drop off their rental cars, beginning with their two Chandler locations.”

Waymo claims that these business examples represent “eight of the top ten activities our riders do when they get in a Waymo.”

It is clear that becoming involved in the e-commerce and retail environment is part of Waymo’s plans as they said in their announcement that, “We know from our early riders that most of their rides are to run errands, shop for groceries, commute to work, head to dinner or fix their personal vehicles.”

This could represent a clear strategy for autonomous vehicles to begin to make a difference in running limited and smaller routes for consumers who need regular transportation. Expect similar rollouts from rivals in the not too distant future, with Waymo reportedly interesting in rolling out the solution to 800 stores by year’s end.

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