Walmart is signaling its commitment to autonomous deliveries with a new investment in self-driving company Cruise. The two already have a cozy relationship, having recently worked together on a delivery pilot in Scottsdale, Arizona. Walmart was so impressed with Cruise's "differentiated business, unique tech and unmatched driverless testing" that it decided to take part in the GM subsidiary's $2.75 billion funding round. The investment will see Cruise become an important part of the retailer's "last mile delivery ecosystem" -- industry parlance for the final journey from warehouse to customer. Walmart has struck additional partnerships on driverless deliveries with companies including Google's Waymo, Ford and Udelv.
Over the past several years, there have been plenty of headlines concerning autonomous vehicles, and the inevitable self-driving future hurdling toward us. The race is on to determine the winners in this fast-emerging industry. Waymo, a subsidiary of Google parent Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) (NASDAQ:GOOG), has long been considered the front-runner, being the first to have a working model on the highways and byways of America. Competition is beginning to loom, however, as evidenced by the increasing number of test drives by well-heeled competitors. Let's look at recent announcements by Waymo, General Motors (NYSE:GM), and Ford Motor (NYSE:F) that give insight into the fast-approaching future of self-driving cars.
Autonomy is the future and the global robotaxi industry is expected to increase at a rate of 168.29% annually from 2020 to 2025. Robotaxi is a concept of autonomous transport that aims at providing on-demand ride-sharing services. The initial deployment of these vehicles is expected to be at airports, industrial parks, pedestrian areas, and other commercial places. To gain market position, major robotaxi manufacturers are making strategic moves to expand their business, enhance their product portfolio, and increase their sales. One of the big players, a start-up called Cruise, backed by General Motors announced that Walmart and institutional investors have joined the funding, boosting the total to $2.75 billion.
Walmart is teaming up with autonomous vehicle startup Cruise for a pilot delivery program that uses self-driving cars to bring orders from stores to homes around Scottsdale, Arizona. Customers place an order from their local Walmart and it will be delivered, contact-free by one of Cruise's all-electric self-driving Chevy Bolts. The program is set to start in early 2021 and will use a number of vehicles that have have at least one safety driver behind the wheel during every trip. Walmart has recently made its way into delivery programs with self-driving vehicles in several US locations and has teamed up with a number of firms including Ford and Waymo. Little details has been provided about the pilot program, but Walmart shared that the GM-owned Cruise will help with finding new ways to'use technology to serve customers in the future.'
It started with pizzas and Walmart groceries delivered in a self-driving car from Ford. Now robot-driven food is catching on with even more new companies and apps. GM's Cruise is working with food delivery service DoorDash to bring your meal from a restaurant to your front door. The two companies announced Thursday that "select customers" in the San Francisco area would soon get to experience autonomous food delivery from one merchant with one self-driving vehicle. More vehicles and restaurants are expected to join in the next six months.