Wal-Mart uses unmanned trucks to complete a 7-mile delivery loop

NS promised, Wal-Mart has partnered with startup Gatik to begin delivering fully self-driving box trucks between its locations on a 7-mile fixed loop. Presentation.. Despite these restrictions, the two companies said the route in Bentonville, Arkansas, included “intersections, traffic lights, and confluences on dense urban roads.” Another shot of good news for self-driving car progress after GM’s cruise has begun Self-driving taxi For testing last week.

Gatik Trucks carries grocery orders from the Wal-Mart Fulfillment Center (Dark Store) to the nearby Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market grocery store in Bentonville, the host city of its headquarters. This route covers the “middle mile” transportation of goods between warehouses and stores. The program was successfully launched with the approval of the Arkansas Highway Commission in December 2020 and has been unmanned since this summer.

The new service is part of Wal-Mart’s transition to a hub-and-spoke model with a warehouse or fulfillment center closer to the customer. “There is an increasing need to travel repeatedly from the fulfillment center to the pick-up point,” said Gautam Narang, CEO of Gatik, as doing so means smaller warehouses. CNBC.. “That’s where we come in.”

Wal-Mart is not the first supermarket to move to completely unmanned driving like Kroger Alliance In 2018, self-driving startup Nuro was delivering groceries. However, at launch, Nuro’s delivery vehicle was a small microvan, while Walmart and Gatik use full-size box trucks.

Walmart and Gatik have conducted similar tests using electric box trucks around New Orleans and delivered them directly to the customer’s pick-up location. However, these are currently in operation with safe drivers, so the Arkansas test is the first true unmanned driving route. “The deployment in Bentonville is not a one-time demonstration,” says Narang. “These are frequent, profitable daily runs, and our trucks are safely completed in a variety of conditions on public roads, demonstrating the commercial and technical benefits of fully autonomous driving in the middle miles. . “

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