Gatik is operating daily without a driver behind the wheel of its Walmart delivery route in Bentonville, Arkansas, the companies announced today.
The route moves customer orders between a Walmart dark store and a Neighborhood Market in a fleet of multi-temperature autonomous box trucks.
According to Gatik, its deployment with Walmart in the state 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 company’s fully driverless operations, which began in August, involve consistent, repeated delivery runs multiple times per day, seven days per week on public roads.
The operations offer Walmart’s customers increased speed and responsiveness when fulfilling e-commerce orders, better asset utilization and enhanced safety for all on the road.
“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, SVP of last mile at Walmart U.S.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson praised the announcement.
“Arkansas and Gatik have shifted into the future with Gatik’s self-driving delivery truck,” he said. “It is fitting that Arkansas, which is home to the greatest retail companies in the world, is the launching pad for this innovation in retail delivery.”
Gautam Narang, CEO and co-founder of Gatik, hailed the development as a milestone that “signifies a revolutionary breakthrough for the autonomous trucking industry.”
“Our deployment in Bentonville is not a one-time demonstration,” he said. “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.”
In December 2020, Gatik and Walmart received the Arkansas State Highway Commission’s first approval to remove the driver from Gatik’s autonomous trucks, following the completion of 18 months’ successful operations.
As part of this development, Gatik undertook a stakeholder engagement strategy, involving state and local leadership and emergency services. It will continue to hold ongoing informational workshops concerning its autonomous operations.
Since commencing commercial operations in 2019, Gatik has achieved a 100 percent safety record across many operational sites in North America, including Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana and Ontario, Canada.
Gatik 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.
By constraining the operational design domain, Gatik said it has been able to remove the driver more quickly compared to other applications, such as passenger transportation or B2C delivery. The urban route in Bentonville involves safely navigating intersections, traffic lights and merging on dense urban roads.
According to the company, 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, the company said, with 65 percent of all routes under 500 miles and routes 100 mile or shorter growing by 37 percent in the past decade.
Founded in 2017 by veterans of the autonomous technology industry, the company has offices in Mountain View, California and Toronto. Gatik was recognized on the 2021 Forbes AI 50 list and as a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer.