H-E-B will launch a pilot program to test delivery service from a vehicle with self-driving technology from Udelv later this year. The retailer will use one autonomous van with driverless technology, which will serve customers near its Olmos Park store, just north of downtown San Antonio.
For San Antonio-based H-E-B, the adoption of innovative technologies has helped increase convenience, reduce costs, streamline operational efficiencies and create jobs.
“Our success starts with our people, who provide exceptional hospitality and drive us to open more engaging stores that offer a world-class shopping experience,” said Craig Boyan, president of H-E-B. “We’re committed to winning through people and hiring more people, and we’re adding necessary skills to become both a better tech company and even stronger brick-and-mortar retailer.”
To test the self-driving technology, the company will source one Autonomous Delivery Vehicle (ADV) from Udelv, a California-based company that creates ADVs. The ADV has climate-controlled compartments that can hold multiple orders of fresh, frozen and dry goods and can travel at city street and highway speeds.
“Companies like H-E-B are taking the first steps to explore the benefits autonomous deliveries can bring to their customers and employees,” said Daniel Laury, CEO of Udelv. “As the most loved retailer in Texas, H-E-B is an amazing partner for Udelv as we scale our AutodelivTM service and work to make deliveries faster and safer. We look forward to serving the people of Texas with Newton, our second-generation ADV.”
During the first phase of the pilot, the ADV will have a driver. 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.
“At H-E-B, we continue to evaluate and utilize innovative technologies in all parts of our business,” said Paul Tepfenhart, SVP of Omnichannel and Emerging Technologies at Central Market and H-E-B. “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.”
This trial is part of efforts to integrate more technology-based services into H-E-B’s digital lineup. Along with Favor, an on-demand delivery service, H-E-B continues to expand e-commerce offerings such as H-E-B Curbside and H-E-B Home Delivery, which are expected to be at more than 200 locations by year’s end and employ more than 5,500 partners companywide, and H-E-B Go, a mobile solution that allows people to scan and pay for their items with their phones.