Technological innovation is always at hand for our industry, and Walmart isn’t one to slow down on its way to the top. The retailer began its pilot partnership with Gatik in July 2019, aiming to launch its first automated grocery delivery.
Walmart’s partnership with Gatik was successful, enabling the retailer to expand the pilot within its home state of Arkansas. The pilot continues to be fruitful as the retailer announced Gatik is operating daily without a safety driver behind the wheel on its delivery route for Walmart in Bentonville, Arkansas.
“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.”
According to a press release, the fleet of multi-temperature autonomous trucks is moving customer orders between a Walmart dark store and a Neighborhood Market. Gatik’s alliance with Walmart in the state marks the first time an autonomous trucking company has removed the safety driver from a commercial delivery route on the middle mile.
Gatik offers fully driverless operations, which began in August of 2021, that involve consistent, repeated delivery runs seven days a week, multiple times a day. The autonomous vehicles travel on public roads and increase the speed of fulfilling e-commerce orders, boost asset utilization, and enhance safety for road users.
“This milestone signifies a revolutionary breakthrough for the autonomous trucking industry,” said Gautam Narang, Chief Executive Officer 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’re thrilled to enable Walmart’s customers to reap the benefits.”
As noted in the release, this key milestone is part of an ambitious long-term strategy to optimize the retailer’s delivery operations. In December 2020, Gatik and Walmart received the Arkansas State Highway Commission’s first-ever approval to remove the safety driver from Gatik’s autonomous trucks, following the completion of 18 months’ successful operations. To make this innovative move possible, Gatik unleashed a comprehensive stakeholder engagement strategy involving state and local leadership and emergency services, and the company will continue to host ongoing informational workshops to showcase its cutting-edge autonomous operations.
Gatik has achieved a 100 percent safety record across multiple operational locations in North America—including Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, and Ontario, Canada—since kicking off commercial operations in 2019. The grocery ally focuses exclusively on fixed, repeatable delivery routes to maximize safety through proprietary, commercial-grade, autonomous technology that is built for B2B short-haul logistics.
Additionally, the autonomous vehicles can safely maneuver busy public areas, as the complex urban route in Bentonville involves safely navigating intersections, traffic lights, and merging on dense urban roads.
As we cross this major stepping stone, how will our industry continue to innovate and address pain points? Deli Market News will continue to keep a pulse on the wire.