Startup inks ‘world’s largest deal’ for driverless grocery deliveries

Whether or not your grocery delivery arrives in a van with a driver behind the wheel may not matter much to you, but an increasing number of companies are nevertheless investing heavily in autonomous delivery vehicles in the belief that they’ll improve efficiency and create significant cost benefits in the long term. Yes, you’ll have to wait and see if those savings will be passed on to you, the customer.

Udelv, a San Francisco-based startup that has already used its autonomous vans to make more than 700 driverless deliveries in the San Francisco Bay area, recently inked what it claims is the world’s largest deal for a grocery delivery service using self-driving vehicles.

The service is set to begin in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma next year, and will use 10 autonomous vans to transport orders to customers from local supermarkets that include Buy For Less, Uptown Grocery, and Smart Saver.

Similar to other trials for self-driving delivery services, the electric vans will operate with safety drivers until both Udelv, and regulators deem them fit for fully driverless operation.

“The vehicles will eventually cover thousands of miles of residential roads in what will be one of the largest autonomous driving deployments in the world,” Udelv said in a release.

Udelv’s van, which has a top speed of 25 mph and a range of around 60 miles, is capable of Level 4 autonomy, meaning it can operate in most scenarios with little to no human intervention.

The vehicle contains 18 compartments for storing customer orders. When the van arrives at a delivery address, the customer receives a notification on their smartphone. They can then meet the van and access their order by tapping in a code to unlock the compartment that contains their items.

News of Udelv’s deal comes soon after another California-based startup, Nuro, launched a driverless delivery service — albeit on a very small scale — in Arizona in partnership with supermarket chain Kroger. Like Udelv, Nuro also has a purpose-built autonomous vehicle, but for its trial service it’s using self-driving Prius cars until final testing and certification of its own vehicle is complete.

But it’s not clear how such services will benefit those who may find it difficult to move their shopping from the van to their home, such as senior citizens or those with particular disabilities. Until these companies add a box-carrying robot to their vans, some delivery runs will have to continue operating with a human to carry the order into homes.

Autonomous vehicle technology is developing fast, though it’s likely to be some time before you have a chance of purchasing your very own fully driverless car. Instead, the industry is looking to exploit platforms that indicate a more measured rollout of the technology. These include self-driving taxi and shuttle services, as well as delivery services using driverless vehicles.

Cars

Porsche’s all-electric Taycan sedan will cost less than a Panamera

Porsche's Mission E concept won't change much as it transitions to a production model named Taycan that's scheduled to arrive in 2019. That means the sedan will keep the sleek design and its 800-volt charging system.
Smart Home

Here’s everything you need to know about Amazon Prime Pantry

The marvels of the Internet have made it possible to do all your shopping from the comfort of your living room. Amazon Prime Pantry allows you to buy groceries and household items online. Here's more info about the service.
Cars

'4WD' or 'AWD'? Which setup is right for you?

Although four-wheel drive (4WD) and all-wheel drive (AWD) are related, they are actually quite different in how they operate. Here, we talk about the fundamental differences between the two systems, and what it means for you as a driver.
News

Kodak’s ‘Digitizing Box’ service saves precious memories stuck on old media

If you've been meaning to convert your old family photos, videotapes, films, and audio recordings to digital but never seem to get around to it, then a new service from Kodak may prompt you to add it to your "to-do" list again.
Cars

At 503 mph, Turbinator II is the world’s fastest wheel-driven vehicle

The Turbinator II is a four-wheel drive streamliner powered by a 5,000-horsepower helicopter engine, and it just achieved 503.332 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats. That's an unofficial record for a wheel-driven car.
Cars

Lyft has a new fixed-price subscription plan for frequent passengers

Lyft wants you to save money by using rideshare services instead of owning a car. The new Lyft All-Access Plan monthly rideshare trip subscription includes 30 rides a month with a small discount for additional trips.
Product Review

Audi's new A8 is so sophisticated and serene, it practically deletes potholes

The 2019 Audi A8’s outline looks promising: Level 3 autonomous driving capability, haptic-feedback infotainment screens, rear-wheel steering, Matrix LED headlights and OLED taillights, plus a predictive suspension.
Cars

Could the next Mazda3 boast a fuel-saving breakthrough in engine tech?

Mazda released a teaser video that likely previews the next Mazda3. Expected to make its global debut at the L.A. auto show, the next 3 will wear a more curvaceous design and offer one of the most advanced engines in the automotive…
Cars

Workhorse takes on diesel with lighter, cheaper NGEN-1000 electric delivery van

Ohio-based Workhorse Group claims its new NGEN-1000 electric delivery van costs the same as a conventional diesel van and can haul a similar amount of cargo. A lower curb weight makes this possible.
Cars

Forget transponders with Peasy’s nationwide pay-as-you-go toll service

Verra Mobility launched Peasy, a consumer highway and bridge toll payment service. Designed to be less hassle than managing traditional transponder or toll tag accounts, Peasy pays tolls as they are levied across most of the U.S.
Cars

Just 10 people will get to put this limited-edition Audi R8 in their garages

The 2018 Audi R8 V10 Plus Competition makes use of Audi's motor sports experience to turn up the performance dial. Decreased weight and increased aerodynamic downforce make this R8 a track monster.
Cars

Bored with stock? The best tuner cars are begging to be modified

Modification has been around almost as long as the automobile itself. Here are 25 of the best tuner cars you can find, ranging from American muscle standouts to Japanese drift cars.
Cars

Tesla keeps promise with more affordable Model 3 with midrange battery pack

Tesla is keeping its promise of making the Model 3 gradually more affordable. The company released a new variant of the car with a mid-range, 260-mile battery option that's priced under the $50,000 mark.
Cars

The snake escapes: Ford’s 700-hp Mustang GT500 slithers online ahead of schedule

The Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 will return in 2019 with over 700 horsepower, Ford confirmed at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show. The GT500 will be the most powerful Ford production car ever.