Walmart signals its commitment to autonomous deliveries with a new investment as an independent company Cruise. The two already have a warm relationship, having recently worked together on a delivery pilot in Scottsdale, Arizona. Walmart was so impressed with Cruise’s “differentiated business, unique technology and unmatched driverless testing” that it decided to participate in the GM subsidiary’s $ 2.75 billion fundraising round.
This investment will see Cruise become an important part of the retailer’s “last mile delivery ecosystem” – the industry’s language for the final journey from the warehouse to the customer. Walmart has entered into additional driverless delivery partnerships with companies like Google Waymo, Ford and Udelv. Most of them involve limited testing, but Walmart is adamant that autonomous vehicles will play a bigger role in retail.
“This investment is a marker for us – it shows our commitment to bringing the benefits of self-driving cars to our customers and to our business,” Walmart chief John Furner said in a blog post. “It is no longer a question of if they will be scaled, but when. “
Walmart’s decision comes just months after announcing its membership program, Walmart Plus, with the aim of competing with Amazon Prime. Both companies have witnessed a massive windfall of profits during the pandemic that could be spent on automating more parts of their operations. Both are also trying at control their massive carbon footprint by investing in sustainable delivery fleets. It helps that Cruise has made a commitment to use GM-supplied fully electric cars in its network from the start.
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