Walmart signals its commitment to autonomous delivery with a new investment in the self-driving company Cruise. The two already have a cozy relationship after recently working 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 $ 2.75 billion financing round for GM’s subsidiary.
The investment will make Cruise an integral part of the retailer’s “last mile delivery ecosystem” – the jargon for the final journey from warehouse to customer. Walmart has partnered with additional driverless delivery partnerships with Google’s Waymo, Ford and Udelv. Most of these involve limited trials, but Walmart firmly believes that autonomous vehicles will play a bigger role in retail.
“This investment is a milestone for us – it shows our commitment to offer our customers and companies the advantages of self-driving cars,” said Walmart CEO John Furner in a blog post. “It’s no longer a question of whether they are scaled, but when.”
Walmart’s decision comes just months after the Walmart Plus membership program was announced to keep up with Amazon Prime. Both companies saw a massive slump in profits during the pandemic, which could result in more parts of their business being automated. The two are also trying to control their massive carbon footprint by investing in sustainable delivery fleets. It helps that Cruise committed to using GM-supplied electric cars on its network from the start.
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