Walmart is using driverless trucks to complete deliveries

The supermarket chain Walmart has begun to deliver on its promise to deliver its grocery business products online, with the goal of increasing capacity and reducing inefficiencies, through driverless trucks, in partnership with the startup Gatik between their own locations on a fixed circuit of just over 11 km (7 miles), this was announced by both companies.

Despite these limitations, the route in Bentonville, Arkansas includes “intersections, traffic lights and junctions on dense urban highways,” the companies noted. This is another positive announcement in terms of the progress of autonomous vehicles, after the cruise of GM put its autonomous taxis to the test last week.

The trucks Gatik are ordering groceries online, from a fulfillment center Walmart to a nearby grocery store Walmart Neighborhood Market in Bentonville, the company’s headquarters city.

The route covers the transport of goods the “middle mile” between warehouses and shops. The program was effectively launched after approval in December 2020 by the Arkansas State Highway Commission, and has been driverless since this summer.

New service, part of a Walmart transition

The new service is part of the transition from Walmart to a center and radio model with warehouses or logistics centers closer to customers.

Doing so means smaller warehouses, so “there is a growing need for repeat trips from fulfillment centers to collection points,” he told CNBC the executive director of Gatik, Gautam Narang. “That’s where we come in”.

Walmart It is not the first commercial store that has entered the world of transport units driverless, as Kroger partnered with autonomous startup Nuro for grocery deliveries in 2018.

However, at launch, Nuro’s delivery vehicles were small microvans, while Walmart and Gatik they use full-size ones. box trucks.

Walmart tests autonomous transportation

Walmart and Gatik similar tests are being conducted in New Orleans with electrical box trucks, delivering directly to the customer’s pickup location. However, they are currently operated with onboard safety drivers, so the Arkansas test is the first truly without driver.

“Our deployment to Bentonville is not a one-time demonstration,” Narang said. “These are frequent, revenue-generating daily tours that our trucks complete safely in a variety of conditions on public roads, demonstrating the commercial and technical advantages of operations. driverless in the middle mile. ”

Also read: Viral video: Influencer raffle truck and his mother wins it

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