Kroger Co. appears to have identified the first city where it’ll use driverless cars to deliver groceries to customers’ homes.

Cincinnati-based Kroger, the nation’s largest operator of traditional supermarkets, partnered in June with Nuro, the Silicon Valley-based robotics company that developed a self-driving vehicle to deliver goods. Kroger touted that partnership and its upcoming use of the new technology at the company’s annual meeting on June 28, the day it was announced. It even had a demonstration vehicle available at Music Hall for shareholders to check out before and after the meeting.

Nuro is now advertising on its website for people to work on its first installation in Phoenix. It doesn’t identify Kroger by name in its online ads, but it says in the ad for a city manager that it’s looking for a person to build its delivery service “in the first city with our first partners.” It also said in that ad that it’s hiring people in Phoenix for “one of our first major delivery services.”

That fits with Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen’s comment at the annual meeting: “This fall we will pilot America’s first application and deployment of Nuro’s hardware and software.”

Nuro also has ads on its website for a shift manager and fleet technician in Phoenix. That’s the only city where it has more than one job available other than at its headquarters location.

Kroger has a major presence in the Phoenix market with its Fry’s chain of stores. Phoenix is Kroger’s fourth-largest market, with 94 stores in the metro area as of last year, according to the company’s most recently available data.

A Kroger spokeswoman declined to comment. Nuro officials also couldn’t be reached to comment.

McMullen said at the annual meeting that he’d like to announce the first city where it would use the technology but added that he couldn’t.

Kroger has ramped up its home delivery over the past year and a half from virtually no locations to making it available from more than 1,000 stores. It expects to reach 1,600 stores by year-end. Kroger has 2,800 stores in 35 states and the District of Columbia.

Nuro is designed to be filled with groceries or other goods. It then drives from a Kroger store or distribution site to the customer’s home. Customers use a code to open the vehicle and grab their groceries. Nuro drives back to the store once the customer has removed the groceries.

Source: Cincinnati Business Courier