The year-long trial will allow the retailer to autonomously deliver groceries to more than 170,000 residents across 72,000 households in London.
Self-driving vehicles from Wayve will join Asda’s existing online delivery operation at the Park Royal superstore in West London for the pilot project.
Simon Gregg, vice-president of e-commerce at Asda, said, “We believe autonomous technology is an exciting opportunity to shape the future of delivery, not only at our Park Royal store, but throughout our nationwide operation.”
Gregg later added, “Through our partnership with Wayve, we are trialling this technology to understand how it can assist our busy store operations, while also adding a unique, reliable and efficient option for Asda customers."
During the pilot, the autonomous vehicles will have an Asda employee and a supervising Wayve safety driver overseeing proceedings during grocery deliveries.
The retailer claims that this is the first trial in the UK that can launch directly into commercial operations without diverging from the operation of the store’s online delivery processes.
Wayve uses AV2.0 technology to train its AI software to learn from experience how to drive in any environment, resulting in a system that is not geofenced by highly detailed maps or predefined routes.
The technology allows the vehicles to autonomously drive anywhere in its urban domain, including locations that it has not previously visited.
It is designed to constantly monitor the road, identifying potential hazards and making the safest decisions possible.
Autonomous Grocery Delivery
Alex Kendall, co-founder and CEO of Wayve, said, “The trial is a demonstration of how autonomy can meet fleet owner needs. We started developing our AV technology over five years ago. It’s incredible to see it delivering real value today, as part of Asda’s daily operations.
“We value our work with Asda to build the foundations of future autonomous grocery delivery. Trials like this one accelerate our road to deployment. They provide the learnings required to bring the benefits of AV technology to customers sooner while ensuring that businesses like Asda are prepared to deploy AVs at scale.”
The latest trial follows a two-year partnership between Asda and Wayve that seeks to develop a self-driving vehicle solution for the grocery market.
While the Park Royal store is the first to benefit from this technology, Wayve will offer autonomous delivery in further Asda locations, should the trial be extended to other areas, the retailer noted.