Rushing to market, UDELV beats Whole Foods and Amazon Prime
Saturday I went to Whole Foods market to get my (hard to find at Vons or Trader Joes) fake coffee with no caffeine, Roma, made from roasted barley, chicory and rye grains. A weakness. Why not just give up the idea of a hot warm breakfast drink that tastes bitter and looks better? And that’s the answer!
Anyway, the young girl at the check out said something to the customer ahead of me that caught my attention, “Are you using your Amazon Prime account?” What?! So I asked her, “What’s the benefit of using my Amazon Prime account at Whole Foods?” Had I such a product shipping account I would get an additional 10% off the store bargains (with a yellow tag). 10% is not strongly compelling. Not that I’m against an extra reduction in cost. But Amazon Prime, with an annual fee of $119, also offers free two-day shipping on more than 100 million eligible items for its world-wide 100 million member base. Great deliver plan.
Check-out girl told me that I could get Whole Foods deliveries from my Amazon Prime membership with the first five deliveries free. But I didn’t see that at the official website. The only thing free was a 30 day trial for signing up for Prime.
UDELV has a different approach. Without 100 million members they can afford to be creative. Or maybe it’s just that entrepreneurial atmosphere up in San Francisco. UDELV begins producing autonomous delivery vans to deliver groceries 2019 in Oklahoma City. With 18 compartments for individual deliveries, ten vehicles will provide a minimal start into the Oklahoma City delivery business. Another 10 vehicle entry will be later in 2019 in Houston, TX, for XL Parts, serving auto repair shops in that area.
Who would benefit from such a development? What about small businesses needing timely delivery of critical auto parts? Those home-bound would benefit if they were able to get to the curb to retrieve their products. Maybe the biggest circle of subscribers would be those who are willing to pay to avoid traffic and parking lot congestion. There might be a handful of people who for fear of a terrorist or other violence would prefer delivery at home. The end result is fewer people out on the road, making it safer for the autonomous delivery vehicle to reach its destination.
The customer is sent a code to open their compartment by mobile app. Although the delivery vehicle is fully autonomous, a driver remains at the wheel until regulators approve full autonomy.
Check out the video above (1:36) for the exciting drive around town, full view of no hands steering wheel, PLUS real people opening their compartment to retrieve products ordered. Real, as opposed to robots.
UDELV partners with Walmart, Food Snacks, Backhaus, The FruitGuys, and Napa Auto Parts, among many others. Perhaps when they come to Los Angeles they will have developed a service model for IT Managed Services, delivering computers, backup devices, Firewalls, Wireless Access Points and the occasional technician (not in compartment). More likely the direction will be the R2D2 type robot that can fix everything data related.