Self-driving vehicles are coming to Oklahoma, and your doorstep! Local grocery store chain Buy For Less and its partner stores announced they are launching a new delivery service through autonomous vehicle company Udelv.
This is the first service of its kind in Oklahoma, and the goal is to help get healthy foods to those who do not have access. The owners of Buy For Less and its partner stores including Smart Saver, Supermercado and Uptown Grocery have joined forces with Udelv in the world's largest contract for these vehicles.
Buy For Less co-owner Susan Binkowski says it will change the way the industry works. “It’s another was that we want to reach out and go, how do we serve people better? How do we love the city that we were called to love?”
The Udelvs will have a backup driver to start, with a local command center monitoring each vehicle's path. The command center will continue to keep an eye on the roads and make corrections when needed once the research phase is complete.
Udelv co-founder Daniel Laury promises, “Whatever happens in the future, if the customer experience is not impeccable, is not better than what it is today, this thing will not happen.”
Some of the stores already offer online ordering for pickup or delivery, but the range is limited. This service will allow the vehicles to delve into food deserts farther away.
“It will be able to be delivered to areas where they have less access to transportation and to fresh food,” says Buy For Less founder Hank Binkowski.
The metro area stores will eventually have 10 of these Udelvs in service, but there are still some hoops to jump through, as there are currently no Oklahoma laws to govern the vehicles.
ODOT executive director Mike Patterson says, “It’s something that we’re working very hard because we know that there are state statutes, city ordinances, other regulations that have to be addressed.”
The state is working with local municipalities, though, to make it happen.
You can expect to see the first Udelv vehicle early next year, with the full fleet hitting the streets by the end of 2019.
To learn more about Udelv, click here.