Walmart, the US-based multinational retail chain, has started carrying shipments using fully driverless delivery trucks. These autonomous vehicles are designed by Gatik, which has been working with Walmart for around 2 years. In this post, we will be discussing the Walmart-Gartik driverless trucks in more detail.
Walmart starts delivery via driverless trucks
For starters, Walmart has been using self-driving trucks for its shipments since 2019. The trucks designed by Gatik were used to deliver shipments from a warehouse to a neighboring retail outlet in Bentonville (Arkansas). But previously, these trucks used to have a human safety driver at their disposal.
After studying the route for almost 2 years, the two companies started deploying completely autonomous driverless trucks without any safety driver back in August. This makes Gatik the first company to operate a fully driverless truck on a commercial route. Currently, there are two trucks delivering goods over a 7-mile route 12 times a day.
Here, the company has designed the trucks to prioritize conservative routes over the direct ones to reduce the risk of accidents. As a result, these trucks do not take unprotected turns and make lane changes.
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Gatik was founded in 2017 by autonomous technology experts. It specializes in middle mile delivery, which means the delivery of goods between warehouse/distribution centers to fulfillment facilities. The company doesn’t plan to develop ride-hailing autonomous vehicles until 2027. It believes that lifting goods is both easier and economical than lifting people.
It’s not clear if Walmart and Gatik are planning to expand the service to other routes. Both companies have remained silent on this matter.
In other news, Gatik already has competition in the form of Cruise LLC. Cruise has been into research and development of self-driving cars since 2013. The company has already obtained permission to operate driverless cargo in some parts of California as well. It even plans to operate driverless taxis from next year.
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