November 8, 2021
Gatik and Walmart have announced that Gatik is operating daily without a safety driver behind the wheel for delivery routes in Bentonville, Ark., moving customer orders between a Walmart dark store and a Neighborhood Market with its fleet of multi-temperature autonomous box trucks. Gatik said it represents the first time that an autonomous trucking company has removed the safety driver from a commercial delivery route on the middle mile anywhere in the world.
The fully driverless operations began in August 2021, and involve consistent, repeated delivery runs multiple times per day, seven days per week on public roads. Walmart said this unlocks the full advantages of autonomous delivery for Walmart’s customers – increased speed and responsiveness when fulfilling e-commerce orders, increased asset utilization and enhanced safety for all road users.
“Through our work with Gatik, we’ve identified that autonomous box trucks offer an efficient, safe and sustainable solution for transporting goods on repeatable routes between our stores,” said Tom Ward, senior vice president of last mile at Walmart U.S. “We’re thrilled to be working with Gatik to achieve this industry-first, driverless milestone in our home state of Arkansas and look forward to continuing to use this technology to serve Walmart customers with speed.”
In December 2020, Gatik and Walmart received approval from the Arkansas State Highway Commission to remove the safety driver from the autonomous trucks, following the completion of 18 months of successful operations. Gatik said it undertook a comprehensive stakeholder engagement strategy, involving state and local leadership and emergency services as part of its roadmap to operate fully driverless. The company said it will continue to hold ongoing informational workshops concerning its autonomous operations.
“This milestone signifies a revolutionary breakthrough for the autonomous trucking industry,” said Gautam Narang, CEO and co-founder of Gatik. “Our deployment in Bentonville is not a one-time demonstration. These are frequent, revenue-generating, daily runs that our trucks are completing safely in a range of conditions on public roads, demonstrating the commercial and technical advantages of fully driverless operations on the middle mile. We are thrilled to enable Walmart’s customers to reap the benefits.”
Gatik said that since starting commercial operations in 2019, it has achieved a 100% safety record across multiple operational sites in North America, including Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana and Ontario, Canada. The company said it focuses exclusively on fixed, repeatable delivery routes to maximize safety, using proprietary, commercial-grade autonomous technology that is purpose-built for B2B short-haul logistics. The urban route in Bentonville involves navigating intersections, traffic lights and merging on dense urban roads.
The company added that as retailers turn increasingly to hub-and-spoke distribution models to meet consumer needs, the middle mile has emerged as a critical component of the supply chain. In the last decade, shorter, urban routes have become more prominent, with 65% of all routes under 500 miles and routes under 100 miles growing by 37% in the past decade.
More details on Gatik’s solutions are available at its website.