Gatik and Walmart Inc. announced on Nov. 8 that Gatik is operating daily without a safety driver behind the wheel of its delivery route for Walmart in Bentonville, Arkansas, according to a press announcement from the companies.
Gatik will move customer orders between a Walmart dark store and a Neighborhood Market in its fleet of multi-temperature autonomous box trucks.
Gatik’s 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, according to the announcement.
“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.”
Gatik’s fully driverless operations began in August 2021, with the goal of consistent, repeated delivery runs multiple times per day, seven days per week on public roads. By constraining the operational design domain, Gatik has been able to achieve the safe removal of the safety driver, the company said. The urban route in Bentonville involves navigating intersections, traffic lights, and merging on dense urban roads.
“Arkansas and Gatik have shifted into the future with Gatik’s self-driving delivery truck,” said Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. “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.”
In December 2020, Gatik and Walmart received the Arkansas State Highway Commission’s approval to remove the safety driver from Gatik’s autonomous trucks, following the completion of 18 months’ successful operations.
“This milestone signifies a revolutionary breakthrough for the autonomous trucking industry,” said Gautam Narang, Gatik CEO and co-founder. “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.”
Gatik will continue to hold ongoing informational workshops concerning its autonomous operations with state and local leadership as well as emergency operations.