Walmart Goods Now Delivered by Autonomous Trucks With No Safety Driver

Call them what you like, but autonomous vehicles (AV) are far from actually, fully and truly being trusted to be autonomous. Even when their features are fully engaged and the vehicles are driving themselves, they’re not exactly doing that unsupervised, as there’s always a human on deck ready to step in in case of need.
Gatik's Walmart no-safety-driver autonomous truck 6 photos
Photo: Gatik
Gatik's Walmart no-safety-driver autonomous truckGatik's Walmart no-safety-driver autonomous truckGatik's Walmart no-safety-driver autonomous truckGatik's Walmart no-safety-driver autonomous truckGatik's Walmart no-safety-driver autonomous truck
The above does not apply to passenger cars only, but also to delivery vehicles. In fact, it’s probably the transportation of goods that will benefit the most from the rise of AVs. So it’s only natural that at least some advancements in this industry come from this particular segment.

For a while now, business-to-business short-haul logistic company Gatik has been using autonomous trucks to transport goods here and there. One of the company’s biggest partners is Walmart, and the two announced this week the achievement of a major milestone.

18 months after it came onto the market, and about eight since it received approval from the Arkansas State Highway Commission to go for autonomous driving without a safety driver, Gatik says it’s finally (and safely) done it.

The feat was achieved on a route that links a Walmart dark store in Bentonville, Arkansas, to a Neighborhood Market. A route, we’re told, that has been for some time, as far back as August, used by these truly driverless trucks. The route is in fact a 7-mile (11 km) loop that can be kept open thanks to the autonomous trucks around the clock.

According to Gatik, this is the first time ever when “an autonomous trucking company has removed the safety driver from a commercial delivery route on the middle mile anywhere in the world.”

We’re not told what future expansion plans Gatik has for the tech, but seeing more of these around is a safe bet. The company already has similar services running elsewhere, including Texas, Louisiana and Ontario.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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