look, no hands ... or driver
H-E-B is test driving forward with a, well, driver-less delivery program in San Antonio later this year, the company announced on July 10.
H-E-B will use autonomous delivery vehicles (aka ADVs) created by the California-based company Udelv. The cars come complete with climate-controlled compartments for all types of orders and the ability to navigate traffic on city streets and highways.
Select customers can sign up to receive deliveries from the ADV during the test period, which currently only includes services from the H-E-B in San Antonio's Olmos Park neighborhood.
“At H-E-B, we continue to evaluate and utilize innovative technologies in all parts of our business,” says Paul Tepfenhart, Central Market and H-E-B's senior vice president of omni-channel and emerging technologies, in a release. “As a leading digital-retail leader in Texas, we will continue to grow our partner population as well as technology presence to complement our store operations, enabling customers to choose how they shop, pay for and receive products.”
To begin, the vehicles will have a driver during the first phase of the pilot program, H-E-B says. "If the initiative is expanded, the retailer will implement a multi-phased roll out to give the technology time to learn the safest, most efficient routes, which will eventually lead to the ADV becoming fully driverless," the company says.
The new driverless vehicles pilot is just one of the technological investments H-E-B has made over the past few years.
Just last month, H-E-B opened a massive tech hub in Austin that serves as an office space for the chain's digital team and headquarters for Favor, the delivery app the company acquired early last year. H-E-B has also recently expanded it innovative services to include curbside and delivery for both H-E-B and Central Market customers.