Walmart pilots Udelv autonomous vans

US retail giant Walmart has announced plans to work with autonomous vehicle specialists Udelv to test autonomous delivery vans making grocery deliveries.

Udelv will use its second-generation autonomous delivery van known as the Newton. This will deliver groceries in Surprise, AZ, and is to begin next month.

The Newton has AI software based on the Baidu Apollo 3.5 open-source platform. According to Udelv, Walmart isn’t the only retailer testing these vehicles, with 100 such vehicles on US roads performing last and middle mile deliveries.

The grocery delivery tests are to take place with backup human drivers until both the Udelv and the local authorities accept it is safe enough to go without.

The Udelv Newton vehicles can carry up to 32 customer orders per run and can reach up to 60mph on public roads. It is not known when and if these will go live beyond pilots. It is however seen as a major coup for Udelv to secure a pilot with Walmart, as this is recognition of the company’s potential.