The Fuse

This Week in AVs: Self-Driving Grocery Deliveries; PAVE Coalition Formed for AV Education; and More

by Kristen Hernandez | January 11, 2019

Cruise and DoorDash are going to start using self-driving cars to deliver groceries and takeout

Self-driving food delivery is coming to the Bay Area.

Self-driving food delivery is coming to the Bay Area. DoorDash announced last week that it will be partnering with Cruise, GM’s autonomous vehicle unit, to deliver food and groceries in the San Francisco area. While the service will start out with just one merchant and one vehicle, there are plans to expand to additional merchants and vehicles in the future. Initially, a DoorDash delivery person will ride in the self-driving vehicle to deliver groceries or meals to the customer, though eventually customers will be able to choose “between picking up a delivery from the curb or via a fully autonomous delivery system.” This announcement is part of a recent trend in using autonomous vehicles for food delivery. Walmart recently announced a partnership with Udelv, an autonomous vehicle startup, on a pilot program in Surprise, Arizona. In December, Kroger announced a partnership with Nuro to deliver groceries to customers in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Audi, Mobileye, Waymo, other top automakers unite to advance public understanding of self-driving vehicles

SAFE is uniting with several automakers, technology companies, and other organizations to advance autonomous vehicle education. The Partners for Automated Vehicle Education (PAVE) coalition was announced Monday at CES. PAVE’s goal is to educate both the public and policymakers about autonomous vehicle potential. Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council and one of the co-chairs of PAVE, emphasized that the coalition is not a lobbying group, but instead seeks to educate people about the benefits and limitations of AV technology. PAVE intends to use a variety of methods to facilitate this education, including policy workshops to familiarize policymakers with AV potential, hands-on workshops with SAE International to give people a chance to interact with automated vehicle technology, and development of educational materials for distribution to retail sales and customer service personnel. A full list of partners and additional information can be found on the coalition’s website.

AAA Acquires Largest Autonomous Vehicle Test Site in the Country

AAA of Northern California, Nevada and Utah has acquired GoMentum Station, an AV testing site in Concord, California. The station is the largest autonomous vehicle test site in the United States. AAA’s investment will allow numerous AV testing projects at the station to continue and expand. For example, in the next month or so the station intends to introduce a “signal lab” where AV infrastructure, such as roadside connectivity equipment, can be tested. GoMentum was previously under the management of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA), which will remain heavily involved in operations. This acquisition is a continuation of the relationship between GoMentum and AAA, as the two partnered on a study on how AVs could be safely implemented for public use in November 2017. According to CCTA director of external affairs Linsey Willis, the organization is excited by AAA’s investment as it will help them “bring to fruition a number of ideas” they had when they founded the station.

Toyota Wants World to Use Its Tech That Keeps Cars From Crashing

Toyota has announced that it will share its automated safety system, called Guardian, with rivals. According to Gill Pratt, CEO of the Toyota Research Institute, the system can take control of the car and guide it out of harm’s way if the human driver is drowsy, distracted, or drunk. The technology is due to be introduced in the early 2020s and uses many of the same sensors as fully self-driving cars, including cameras, radar, and lidar. However, the human will remain the primary driver in the Guardian system. Toyota has suggested that the technology could be shared through licensing or whole systems. This move could potentially pay off in royalties and reputation in a future where leading in technology and safety is critical.