In a bid to reduce the cost of the (in)famous last mile, French retailer Carrefour is now testing an autonomous electric delivery van near Paris to deliver groceries.
During the test, customers can order their groceries online and reserve a delivery slot. The self-driving electric van will then bring the groceries to the spot. With a code they receive on their phone, customers can pick up their order from one of the eighteen lockers in the van.
The autonomous van picks up the orders at the Carrefour Drive pick-up point in Massy, a commune south of Paris where the retailer’s head office is also located. The new service is available to customers on the nearby Plateau de Saclay, sometimes called France’s Silicon Valley: an area where universities and quite a few research centres are located. It is also the largest approved test area for autonomous vehicles in France.
70 kilometres per hour
The self-driving car was developed by mobility company Goggo Network, which has offices in France, Germany and Spain. The vehicle can move autonomously in traffic at a maximum speed of 70 kilometres per hour. Goggo has a similar test project under way with supermarket chain Dia (a former subsidiary of Carrefour) in Spain. Unlike the electric delivery truck Colruyt Group is currently testing in Belgium, Goggo’s autonomous car still has a person in it for emergencies, although they are not actively driving the vehicle.
Carrefour will deploy more routes, more zones and more vehicles in the future, CEO Alexandre Bompard announced. But first, the retailer wants to test, understand what customers expect and see what can be improved. It is also waiting to see how the regulations around autonomous vehicles will evolve: “Only later can we think about a wider implementation.” Carrefour’s intention is to eventually bring down the cost of last mile deliveries.