SoftBank-backed Nuro launches autonomous grocery delivery service in Houston

On the heels of its massive $940 million funding from the SoftBank Vision Fund, Nuro is launching in its second market. Nuro first launched its self-driving grocery delivery service in Scottsdale, Ariz. in August. Now, Nuro is expanding its partnership with grocer Kroger to launch in Houston, Texas.

The service will be available through two of Kroger’s stores in Houston to reach customers in four local ZIP codes. Since first partnering with Kroger, Nuro has completed thousands of deliveries to customers.

“We’ve seen first-hand in Arizona how enthusiastic customers are about getting their Kroger groceries delivered by a Nuro self-driving vehicle,” Nuro co-founder Dave Ferguson said in a press release. “Texas has been a leader in encouraging self-driving innovation, and we’re excited to help deliver that future for Houston — a dynamic, diverse, and welcoming metropolitan city that we’re excited to soon explore and serve with this autonomous delivery service.”

Similar to Nuro’s approach in Scottsdale, it will first deploy self-driving Toyota Prius’ before deploying its custom driverless vehicles in the market. Nuro deployed its custom autonomous delivery bot, the R1, a few months after it started testing the service in Scottsdale.

Nuro’s long-term vision is to use its self-driving technology in the last mile for the delivery of local goods and services. In addition to groceries, that could be things like dry cleaning, an item you left at a friend’s house or really anything within city limits that can fit inside one of Nuro’s vehicles. Nuro has two compartments that can fit up to six grocery bags each.

When it came to going to market, Ferguson said groceries were most exciting to him, he told me last June. And Kroger particularly stood out because of its smart shelf technology and partnership with Ocado around automated fulfillment centers.