Walmart is the largest employer in the United States, and it isn’t even close. The big-box retail behemoth has more than 1.5 million employees. Yet for a company that hires thousands of people each day, Walmart is making news Tuesday for what it wants to do without employees: deliver groceries and other items to customers’ houses with a fleet of electric-powered, driverless cars. Yes, you read that correctly. The company that hires people just to say “hello” to you when you walk into the store wants cars to drive themselves to drop off your eggs, milk, Hamburger Helper and waffles.
The plan is to kick off a pilot program in 2021 with General Motors. They will use Cruise cars, and the test region will be Scottsdale, Arizona, where a customer can place an order from the store and have it delivered by one of Cruise’s cars. This ambitious operation would check off two boxes Walmart has on its to-do list: provide customers with what they need, quickly, and get the company closer to its target of zero emissions by 2040.
“Technology that has the potential to not only save customers time and money but also be helpful to the planet is technology we want to learn more about,” was included in a message from Tom Ward, senior VP of customer product, that was posted on the company website.
Walmart is not alone. Kroger is testing deliveries by self-driving vehicles too.
So residents of Scottsdale, you’ve been warned. If you see a blue car with a yellow apron on it and no driver in the front seat, that’s just groceries being delivered to someone who’s too lazy to put a couple shopping bags in their backseat.