Asda is launching the UK’s biggest trial to date of autonomous grocery home shopping delivery.

The supermarket giant has teamed up with tech company Wayve for a pilot covering a catchment area of 170,000 residents in west London.

The 72,000 households covered by Asda’s Park Royal store are being used to test the service, which will use Wayve’s fleet of Jaguar I-Pace driverless vehicles.

It is the first time the technology is being incorporated into routine home deliveries.

Deliveries will be chosen at random from orders placed in the area during the 12-month trial.

Wayve’s ‘AV2.0’ technology uses machine learning to train its AI software to learn from experience how to drive in any environment, meaning its vehicles can autonomously drive from store to door even to places they have never been to before.

The system is designed to constantly monitor the road, identifying potential hazards and making the safest decisions possible.

To comply with safety regulations the cars will carry a human systems operator as well as an Asda member of staff to carry in the order to homes, although in the long term experts are hoping the system could be completely AI.

Asda is the UK’s second largest online supermarket with over 20% of the market, delivering more than 800,000 orders every week.

If the trial is a success it is set to be extended to other areas of the country.

The latest trial by Asda comes after it became the first to sign up with Wayve in 2021 to trial its new technology. In April of that year, Ocado announced a partnership and £10m investment in Oxford-based autonomous vehicle software company Oxbotica.

“Asda has long understood the value of bringing tech innovation to the online grocery sector and we are always looking at new and innovative partnerships to improve delivery options for customers,” said Simon Gregg, VP of e-commerce at Asda.

“We believe autonomous technology is an exciting opportunity to shape the future of delivery, not only at our Park Royal store but throughout our nationwide operation.

“Through our partnership with Wayve, we are trialling this technology to understand how it can assist our busy store operations, whilst also adding a unique, reliable and efficient option for Asda customers to have a whole range of products delivered to their doors.”

Alex Kendall, co-founder and CEO at Wayve, added: “We’re excited to partner with Asda on the largest urban autonomous grocery delivery trial in Europe. The trial is a demonstration of how autonomy can meet fleet owner needs. We started developing our AV technology over five years ago: it’s incredible to see it delivering real value today as part of Asda’s daily operations.

“We value our work with Asda to build the foundations of future autonomous grocery delivery. Trials like this one accelerate our road to deployment. They provide the learnings required to bring the benefits of AV technology to customers sooner while ensuring that businesses, like Asda, are prepared to deploy AVs at scale.”