Walmart is making commercial deliveries from a warehouse to a store in Arkansas with autonomous delivery vehicles that have no safety driver in the vehicles.
The project is a partnership with autonomous vehicle company Gatik.
“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 statement from the company.
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 anywhere in the world. Gatik’s fully driverless operations, which began in August 2021, involve consistent delivery runs seven days per week on public roads. The company claims the benefits of autonomous commercial vehicles are: increased speed and responsiveness, increased asset utilization and enhanced safety for all road users.
“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.”
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. As part of its roadmap to operating fully driverless, Gatik undertook a comprehensive stakeholder engagement strategy, involving state and local leadership and emergency services.
“This milestone signifies a revolutionary breakthrough for the autonomous trucking industry,” said Gautam Narang, CEO and co-founder, 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.”