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2022-06-10 23:30:30 By : Mr. Volin Huang

Walmart continues to pump resources into its evolving delivery strategy as it takes on e-commerce giant Amazon. 

Over the last two weeks, the big-box retailer said it would expand its drone delivery program to 4 million households and build next-gen automated fulfilment centers for faster deliveries. 

Its next high-tech chess move was revealed Tuesday – delivery robots.

As first reported by Fortune on June 7, the CEO of Serve Robotics, Ali Kashani, said his Uber-backed startup is working with Walmart. Kashani declined to comment further on the small scale test. 

A Serve Robotics spokesperson confirmed with Insider that the company's robots have been operating in Bentonville, Arkansas, but declined to comment further, only stating: "We look forward to sharing additional partnership news in the coming months."

In a statement to Insider, Walmart said, "We're constantly testing new and up and coming technology to identify solutions that best meet our customers' needs."

When David Guggina, Walmart's senior vice president of innovation and automation, announced the retailer's drone delivery expansion last month, he said: "We continue to expand our delivery operations to help customers get the items they need when they need them, and it's been an exciting journey."

Serve was originally the robotics division of delivery app Postmates. After Uber bought Postmates in 2020, it spun off Serve, though Uber remains a key backer. In May Uber Eats began rolling out Serve's autonomous robots to customers in the Hollywood area of California. 

Walmart is leaning into robotics at a time when retailers and restaurants are turning to automation to augment labor and save on delivery fees. Walmart and Starbucks have been testing drone delivery in North Carolina for nearly two years.

Casual dining chain Chili's, which has 1,200 locations, is leaning into autonomous rovers by Serve, drone delivery, and robot food runners. 

Chili's told Insider that it chose Serve's sidewalk robots because they are fully autonomous, while other rovers are remote-driven. The delivery robots market size is expected to reach $957 million by 2026, up from $212 million in 2021, according to MarketsandMarkets Research.

Axel Springer, Insider Inc.'s parent company, is an investor in Uber.