During a keynote presentation at last year’s convention hosted by the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association, Cox Automotive chief operating officer Mark O’Neil remarked how a 1960s cartoon, "The Jetsons," foretold the future with things like flying cars and other machines that completed tasks for people.
Another development surfaced this week toward a world O’Neil mentioned; this time involving autonomous vehicles and groceries.
Cruise and DoorDash announced they are partnering to pilot food and grocery delivery by Cruise’s autonomous vehicles through the DoorDash platform. The testing program will begin in early 2019 with an initial focus on the San Francisco market.
Cruise Automation was founded in 2013 by Kyle Vogt and Dan Kan with a shared a vision to transform mobility through the large-scale deployment of autonomous vehicle technology. In 2016, Cruise partnered with General Motors to help scale this vision as the company deployed its first test fleet of self-driving vehicles. Since then, Cruise has continued to develop its technology, while receiving additional backing from SoftBank and Honda.
Cruise has fleets on the road in California, Arizona and Michigan.
“Delivery is a significant opportunity for Cruise as we prepare to commercialize our autonomous vehicle technology and transform transportation,” said Dan Ammann, who recently left GM to become Cruise chief executive officer. “Partnering with DoorDash will provide us with critical learnings as we further our mission to deliver technology that makes people’s lives better and more convenient.”
DoorDash, founded in the summer of 2013, is a technology company that connects customers with their favorite local and national businesses in 3,000 cities across the United States and Canada.
DoorDash explained that it will use Cruise autonomous vehicles to test and improve the efficiency of getting food and groceries from DoorDash’s merchants to its customers’ doors. As part of the program, select DoorDash customers will receive deliveries from their favorite restaurants via a Cruise autonomous vehicle.
In addition to ready-made restaurant meals, the partnership will also explore grocery fulfillment via Cruise vehicles for select grocers already partnered with DoorDash.
DoorDash and Cruise expect to evaluate and develop safety, operational and other learnings in the pilot.
“We are excited to partner with Cruise to develop our expertise in the autonomous vehicle delivery space,” said Tony Xu, CEO of DoorDash. “We see autonomous vehicles playing a major role in the future of delivery as consumer behaviors continue to shift online, and we are confident Cruise’s leading technology will help us scale to meet growing consumer demand.”