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Kroger To End Self-Driving Delivery In Scottsdale, Move To Houston

After a successful pilot program in Scottsdale, the nation’s largest grocery retailer is expanding its self-driving delivery service - and moving its cars out of Arizona.

Last August, Kroger launched its self-driving delivery service for 85257 zip code in Scottsdale.

Now, after completing thousands of safe deliveries, Kroger and robotics company Nuro say they will transfer the program to Houston for the next phase of the pilot. Rather than a single zip code, the service will be available to customers in four zip codes.

In a prepared statement, Yael Cosset, Kroger’s chief digital officer said. “Our Arizona pilot program confirmed the flexibility and benefits provided by autonomous vehicles and how much customers are open to more innovative solutions.”

The company’s news release did not explain why it is not expanding in Arizona, but Cosset said, “We operate 102 stores in Houston-an energetic market that embraces digital and technology advancement.”

Scottsdale customers that have been using the unmanned service will have to rely on standard delivery with a human operator when the specially designed cars leave — that’s expected later this spring.

Pam Giannonatti, Kroger corporate affairs manager for the Fry’s division, released an email statement on Thursday afternoon:

"March 20 will be the last day customers receive deliveries from Nuro at the Fry’s Food Store located at the 7770 East McDowell Road location. And beginning on March 21, the participating Fry’s Food Store will transition to Instacart for grocery delivery needs. Our vision was to offer autonomous delivery broadly.

"As a pilot, the purpose was to learn, grow and evolve this service offering in Arizona, and then scale to a bigger city to learn more about operating in a different environment. During this pilot it was learned that we can deliver a service that our customers love — providing convenience and fresh groceries for our customers safely in the communities.

"We are happy to say, more than 2,000 grocery orders were successfully delivered since the initial launch in August 2018. Many of our customers who ordered groceries from the service were repeat customers. This engagement shows the immense appetite for affordable, safe and convenient delivery options."

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.