Jan. 12 (UPI) -- Walmart said Tuesday it will test pilot a smart cooler to deliver groceries to customers' doorsteps.
The secure, temperature-controlled smart box allows customers to receive contactless delivery of groceries outside their home without having to be there, according to the device maker HomeValet.
Walmart has partnered with HomeValet to test the smart cooler with customers near its headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.
Participating customers will be able to receive deliveries beginning in the spring from their local Walmart directly to HomeValet's smart coolers outside their homes, Tom Ward, Walmart's senior vice president of customer product, said in a statement.
"This gives customers the ability to receive secure, contactless deliveries with the peace of mind knowing their grocery items will stay fresh," the statement said. "HomeValet's smart box is powered by an Internet of things (IoT) platform that has three temperature-controlled zones, so it can properly store frozen, refrigerated and pantry items. And when it's time for a delivery to be made, the smart box communicates with the delivery provider's device, giving them secure access to the smart box to complete the delivery."
In between deliveries the HomeValet boxes are disinfected using UV-C light, according to HomeValet FAQ.
HomeValet, based in the Washington, D.C., metro area, was founded by father and son John and Jack Simms before the COVID-19 pandemic. Jack Simms said the pandemic "created a sense of urgency."
By late March, Walmart, along with other online grocery delivery services had already seen a "sharp spike" in online business due to the emergence of the pandemic, HomeValet said in a statement.