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Kroger to deploy unmanned delivery vehicles in Arizona

Unmanned vehicles are the latest tool that The Kroger Co. is adding to its grocery delivery arsenal.

The Cincinnati-based supermarket operator said Dec. 18 that it will expand a partnership with startup Nuro to deliver groceries using vehicles without drivers. Kroger is debuting the service for customers in Scottsdale, Ariz., at a single store in its Fry's Food Stores chain.

Nuro's vehicles are smaller than most cars and can carry multiple orders at a time. Deliveries using the vehicles will cost $5.95 each, and there is no minimum order.

Kroger has been expanding its delivery and pickup options in 2018. In May, Kroger said it would build warehouses specifically designed for filling online orders as part of a partnership with Ocado Group PLC. The grocer has also been expanding in-house operations, such as its pickup service.

The introduction of unmanned delivery vehicles also expands the grocer's partnership with Nuro.

In August, the Mountain View, Calif.-based startup deployed a fleet of autonomous hybrid cars that have delivered groceries for Kroger in Scottsdale. Despite being self-driving, those cars were staffed with drivers for safety purposes, Kroger said at the time.