Walmart invests in Cruise, says driverless deliveries are coming

Self-driving technology startup Cruise completed its latest round of founding on April 15, raising $2.75 billion and seeing its total valuation climb to $30 billion.

Among the latest investors was retail giant Walmart which has been working with Cruise since last November to develop a trial driverless delivery service in Scottsdale, Arizona. Cruise is majority owned by General Motors but also calls Honda and Microsoft as key investors.

In a statement, Walmart CEO John Furner said he’s seen enough to know that the concept of driverless deliveries is no longer a question of if it will happen, but when.

“This investment is a marker for us,” he said. “It shows our commitment to bringing the benefit of self-driving cars to our customers and business.”

Cruise self-driving car prototype

Walmart, which has worked with other companies in the area of driverless technology, including Ford, chose to invest in Cruise because of its technology leadership but also its exclusive use of electric vehicles powered by 100% renewable energy. Walmart has its own goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2040.

Cruise has a fleet of about 200 self-driving prototypes, most of them in San Francisco. The company has already been using them for deliveries to help during the Covid-19 pandemic. As for Walmart’s service, no dates or locations have been announced.

Cruise also hasn’t said when it plans to start its planned driverless taxi service, at least in the United States (originally it was meant to start in 2019). However, days after completing its latest round of funding, Cruise said it secured a deal with Dubai to be the city’s exclusive provider for driverless taxis between 2023 and 2029.

Although Cruise is using Chevrolet Bolt EVs for its prototypes, for its driverless taxis the company will use its own shuttle called the Cruise Origin. The shuttle will be built by GM on its Ultium platform starting in 2022.

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