Walmart partners with GM's Cruise on self-driving delivery pilot in AZ

FILE PHOTO: The logo of a Walmart Superstore is seen during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Rosemead, California, U.S., June 11, 2020. Picture taken June 11, 2020. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

(Reuters) - Walmart Inc is adding Cruise, a majority-owned affiliate of U.S. automaker General Motors Co GM.N, to its roster of self-driving startup partners, in a pilot delivery program early next year in Scottsdale, Arizona, the retailer said on Tuesday.

Walmart previously has partnered with tech startups Flytrex, Nuro and Gatik on pilot delivery programs with drones and self-driving vehicles in several U.S. locations, and with Ford Motor Co F.N in a Miami delivery pilot.

Cruise has been testing its self-driving vehicles for several years in San Francisco, as well as Phoenix. In addition to robotaxis, it has provided automated grocery delivery services to residents in San Francisco.

Backed by Honda Motor Co 7267.T, SoftBank Group 9984.T and T. Rowe Price TROW.O, Cruise told Reuters in an email it is "laser-focused on making this first pilot successful with Walmart."

Cruise did not say how many vehicles will be deployed in the Walmart pilot.

Walmart announced the latest partnership in a blog post early Tuesday.

(This story corrects to add reference in paragraph 2 to delivery by drones)

Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall