Waymo, the self-driving car company run by Google parent Alphabet, is to begin offering rides for Walmart customers, helping them pick up their groceries.
While a customer's order is being prepared at the store for collection, the Waymo vehicle is dispatched to collect the customer and bring them to the store, before taking them and their shopping home again.
The test pilot will begin later this week and is a part of Waymo's ongoing autonomous car trials in Metro Phoenix, Arizona.
This partnership is one of several Waymo has struck with four other businesses which operate locally, to help transport people autonomously and without using public transport or their own vehicle. Another trial will see AutoNation, the car service and maintenance company, offer customers an autonomous Waymo vehicle instead of a loaner while theirs is being serviced.
DDR Corp, owner of the Ahwatukee Foothills Towne Center in Chandler, will begin offering shoppers and diners a ride in a Waymo vehicle to avoid the stress of busy parking lots.
Avis Budget Group, the hire car company, is also involved with Waymo in Phoenix. The autonomous vehicles will be offered to Avis customers as a 'last-mile' solution for helping customers pick up their rental cars.
Waymo said in a blog post on July 25: "We've been busy teaming up with partners this summer to create new experiences, and provide unique value for our riders. We know from our early riders that most of their rides are to run errands, shop for groceries, commute to work, head to dinner or fix their personal vehicles."
These errand-running services will likely get the attention of Uber, which — along with other ride-sharing services and regular taxi companies - are often the go-to option for these kinds of situations. But, while Uber's autonomous car efforts remain on the sidelines — and in fully-manual mode — Waymo has struck these deals to show what a city with autonomous car services can look like.
Although these trials are local in scale, they allow Waymo to partner with national brands and make it easy for similar autonomous services to be offered in other cities and states. Waymo said: "What we learn from these programs will give us a network of partners when we launch in new cities down the road.
"We're proud to be a part of Metro Phoenix and are excited to grow and add partnerships that support the cities we operate in, bring unique value to our riders, and give more people access to a safe, self-driving future."