Kroger grocery stores and technology company Nuro are working together on a plan to deploy self-driving robocars to deliver groceries. This is not some science fiction utopian design for the future. This is a real deal coming soon to a Kroger near you.
Kroger has about 2,800 locations in America, and the chain already offers online grocery shopping. Right now, items purchased online can be held at a nearby store for pickup or delivered by a driver that operates the delivery vehicle. In the near future, the new robot vehicles created by Nuro will operate without human drivers.
Mashable reports that the supermarket chain will start its first street-test in the next six months but for the pilot, only bread, eggs, and milk will be offered. These robocars will replace human drivers, which is not a good thing for those making a living as a delivery person. However, for consumers, the technology should enable cost efficiencies that make it less expensive to ship goods to homes using the existing Kroger same-day delivery service called ClickList.
It is easy to imagine connecting smart home technology through the Internet of Things (IoT) to have replacement orders automatically forwarded for robocar delivery. The Nuro company already makes advanced smart home technology systems that control the interior environment, so it is not difficult to add food inventory management to those systems that already control heating, cooling, lighting, and security.
Using artificial intelligence algorithms, it should be possible to program a smart home system that is connected to grocery delivery program to keep from running out of critical things and to take advantage of any product sales and stock up when the prices are low.
The one thing that has not yet been automated for robocar grocery delivery is having another robot to receive the groceries, bring them into the house, and put everything away. Perhaps someday, an android servant will have that job responsibility. In the future, it may even be possible to have breakfast in bed that is automatically prepared and served without ever having to request it.