Gatik’s autonomous trucks now deliver driverless for Walmart in Arkansas – TechCrunch

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Autonomous vehicle startup Gatik has reached a new milestone in its partnership with Walmart and within the industry.

Gatik said Monday that he has pulled the security operator from the wheel of two self-driving box vans operating out of Walmart territory in Bentonville, Arkansas. This means the startup’s box trucks are driverless on a trade route – a first for the industry, according to Gatik CEO and co-founder Gautam Narang.

Gatik has taken a different approach than other competitors in the autonomous vehicle industry. The Palo Alto-based startup is not targeting consumers. Instead, Gatik uses its autonomous trucks to transport groceries and other products from large distribution centers to retail stores. Gatik, who sneaked out in 2019, has been hauling merchandise for Walmart in Arkansas and Louisiana, and for Loblaw Companies Limited in Ontario, Canada.

Most recently, Gatik expanded to Texas following an $ 85 million Series B fundraising round. Gatik has 25 autonomous trucks in its total fleet, which are spread across Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, California and Canada.

Gatik began driverless operations in August, which TechCrunch noted at the time. Walmart and Gatik have now released more details on driverless operations. Gatik has five autonomous trucks operating in Arkansas, which are used to haul merchandise for Walmart. Two of these trucks are now driverless and operate seven days a week on a 7.1-mile route between a Walmart fulfillment center (or dark store) and one of your neighborhood markets.

However, Gatik still has safeguards. An employee is in the passenger seat of the truck, there is a pursuit vehicle, and it only operates in favorable weather conditions. A third-party company tested the autonomous driving system before starting driverless operations, Naraang said.

Narang told TechCrunch that the goal is to scale driverless operations at its other sites as well, and at a faster rate. “It took us about 24 months from our commercial launch to get to a point where we could safely get the driver out,” he said. ‚ÄúThat unmanned time will decrease over time. Basically, getting to driverless operations in new markets and on new routes will be faster. “

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