Walmart has marked a first in the autonomous driverless delivery realm, removing the safety driver on its daily delivery operations. Walmart says it's 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.
The milestone of fully driverless delivery using Gatik autonomous driverless technology occurred on Walmart's delivery route in Bentonville, Arkansas, moving customer orders between a Walmart dark store and a Neighbourhood Market in its fleet of multi-temperature autonomous box trucks.
The announcement opens the door to fully driverless operations for Walmart Canada where Gatik operates, says a spokesperson for the company. Walmart is not the only retailer in Canada to use Gatik's technology for driverless deliveries.
Gatik’s fully driverless operations, which began in August 2021, involve consistent, repeated delivery runs multiple times per day, seven days per week on public roads and unlock the full advantages of autonomous delivery for Walmart’s customers: increased speed and responsiveness when fulfilling e-commerce orders, 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,” says 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.”
Since commencing commercial operations in 2019, Gatik says it has achieved a 100 per cent safety record across multiple operational sites in North America (including Ontario). Gatik focuses exclusively on fixed, repeatable delivery routes to maximize safety, using proprietary, commercial-grade autonomous technology that is purpose-built for B2B short-haul logistics. By constraining the operational design domain, Gatik has been able to achieve the safe removal of the safety driver much more quickly compared to other applications, such as passenger transportation or B2C delivery. The complex urban route in Bentonville involves safely navigating intersections, traffic lights and merging on dense urban roads.