In 2021, Walmart plans to remove safety drivers from its autonomous vehicles for its delivery service with Gatik in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Additionally, the pilot project for self-driving vehicle deliveries will be expanded to a second location in Louisiana. Gatik develops vehicles for middle mile logistics in the form of multi-temperature autonomous box trucks. The company has driven more than 70,000 operational miles in autonomous mode with a safety driver.
The companies have already tested the autonomous trucks without a safety driver but on a small scale in Bentonville transferring customer orders from a dark store to a live store. Now, the second location will test even longer deliveries with items being picked up at a supercenter and delivered to a Walmart pickup point, where customers can receive their orders.
Gatik said it has worked with legislative and regulatory personnel in Arkansas to develop self-driving vehicle legislation and share details about its operations. The driverless deployment is the next phase of evolving consumer needs, which is compounded by driver shortages. Gatik said this can only be solved by automation, which helps save costs while increasing the number of trucks delivering on the road.