San Jose company launches grocery delivery service with self-driving cars

A San Jose company has begun grocery delivery with self-driving cars. Starting this week, they're operating in a small section of north San Jose.

This is no ordinary grocery delivery. The bright green Auto X car drives itself. Upon arrival, it pops the trunk and you grab your bags.

The idea is that by cutting out the need for a driver, you can also cut costs. Auto X hopes to be cheaper than traditional delivery services.

Chief Operating Officer Jewel Li says, "It's not done by human. It's delivered by a self-driving car. Therefore, the cost in the future is going to be lower."

Right now, the service is free. And for the first time this week, it's available to the public.
The company has three vehicles delivering in north San Jose, with plans to expand to 20 vehicles by the end of the year.

The orders are placed through an app, but the cars are also stocked with a small "store" for customers to make extra purchases in person. So far, they're working with Di Martini and GrubMarket to provide the groceries.

Li says, "In the future, when we have a bigger vehicle, you can get a store right to your doorstep and select whatever you want."

And while the cars are self-driving, people come along for backup. Auto X says they have both lidar, and high resolution cameras navigating the route.

Li says, "Why we choose cameras as the primary sensor is because they have very high resolutions. It's like human eyes." 

As an early customer, Susan Tajii says she was impressed with her groceries and the service.

“As long as it’s safe, because there's a lot of kids going around," Tajii said, adding she didn’t even realize the car was autonomous. 

But around here, she says she's not surprised.

"Well it's Silicon Valley you know," she said.

Right now Auto X is just delivering in north San Jose. But they're hoping to expand within a few weeks, likely targeting Palo Alto and Mountain View next.