DoorDash said Thursday it would begin in March testing Cruise’s autonomous vehicles to deliver food to customers in San Francisco. General Motors-owned Cruise, which took investments from SoftBank and Honda last year, has said it would roll out fully autonomous vehicles by the end of 2019. It has been testing its vehicles on the eastern side of San Francisco for three years but now is trying to commercialize the effort under new CEO Dan Ammann. Like other self-driving car developers, Cruise’s limitations have become clearer in the past year.
Logistics and delivery companies trying to improve their economics are compelling partners to test autonomous vehicles. (Grocery chain Kroger has a similar relationship with self-driving vehicle startup Nuro.) DoorDash implied in a release it didn’t yet have a clear answer to the question: “What key technical and infrastructure challenges exist with autonomous delivery?” Besides technical self-driving car hurdles, we can think of a couple real-world challenges, such as how vehicles will navigate the rules of curb space and how customers will retrieve their orders if they can’t come outside.