BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart and autonomous vehicle company, Gatik are teaming up to offer driver-free deliveries in Bentonville.
According to a press release from Business Wire, Gatik is operating daily without a safety driver behind the wheel on its delivery route for Walmart in Bentonville.
They will be moving customer orders between a Walmart "dark store" and a Neighborhood Market in its fleet of multi-temperature autonomous box trucks.
According to the release, this is the first time an autonomous trucking company has removed the safety driver from a commercial delivery route on the middle mile anywhere in the world.
“I’m excited and proud to share that today we have validated that vision, we’ve achieved that milestone. Gatik is fully driverless today. To my knowledge we are the first and only company doing this in a commercial capacity with our partner Walmart," said Gautam Narang, CEO and co-founder of Gatik.
Gatik's fully driverless operations began in August 2021 and allow for multiple delivery runs seven days a week.
“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.”
“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.”
After 18 months of successful operations, Gatik and Walmart received the Arkansas State highway Commission's first-ever approval to remove the safety driver from the company's trucks in December 2020.
“Today we have 100% safety record based on all of our operations across different markets. In this particular case, this is the route that we have been operating on for the last two and a half years. Since the very first day we started operations, we engaged all the local stakeholders," said Narang.
The delivery routes are repeatable, maximizing safety for other drivers.
According to the release, since commencing commercial operations in 2019, Gatik has achieved a 100% safety record across multiple operational sites in North America including Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana and Ontario.