Grocery bags are loaded into the R1 autonomous vehicle. The Kroger Company plans to begin testing driverless delivery.  (AP)

Grocery bags are loaded into the R1 autonomous vehicle. The Kroger Company plans to begin testing driverless delivery. (AP)

The Rl will be used in the second part of testing driverless delivery. (AP)

The Rl will be used in the second part of testing driverless delivery. (AP)

A self-driving Nuro vehicle parks outside a supermarket. A person will ride along during the first part of testing driverless delivery. (AP)

A self-driving Nuro vehicle parks outside a supermarket. A person will ride along during the first part of testing driverless delivery. (AP)

A supermarket worker puts groceries into the self-driving Nuro vehicle, to be tested in Scottsdale, Arizona. (AP)

A supermarket worker puts groceries into the self-driving Nuro vehicle, to be tested in Scottsdale, Arizona. (AP)

Who’s Driving that Car?!

Posted: November 5, 2018

In the old days, milkmen, bread men, and egg men brought food right to the front door. Now a car comes. It brings a full load of groceries. And no one is driving it!

The delivery car comes from a grocery store in Scottsdale, Arizona. The grocery chain Kroger owns the store. A store clerk loaded the back seat with full grocery bags. A person sits in the driver’s seat. Another sits in the front passenger seat with a laptop. The two people aren’t driving. They’re watching to make sure the car does what it should.

Kroger is testing automated grocery delivery. Here’s how it works. Shoppers order their groceries online. They pay six dollars for delivery. The “driverless” vehicles navigate to the shoppers’ homes and deliver the groceries to the curb.

A lot of people were involved in delivering food in the old days. That is still true in this budding age of self-driving delivery. People select the groceries and pack them. They load them into the car. Safety drivers must ride along for now. The shopper still has to pick up his or her groceries at the curb.

Will the self-delivery cars pass this test? If they do, Kroger officials will start the next phase: delivery cars with no people in them at all. Eventually, groceries will head to homes in a little vehicle called the R1. R1 is half the width of a regular car. It has no room for people. It holds 12 shopping bags and travels only 25 miles per hour. R1 eliminates the people involved in moving groceries. R1 has another important perk: Because no people ride inside, the car can sacrifice itself in case of an accident. Better to have some broken eggs and a smashed-up car than an injured person!

Driverless cars aren’t cheap. But getting rid of costly human drivers might save money. And letting the robot cars do the driving means neither delivery people nor shoppers have to make all those trips to keep the fridge full!