Walmart embraces fully driverless deliveries in a worldwide industry first

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Walmart and its self-driving technology driving partner Gatik are now operating the first driverless trucks in Bentonville, Arkansas. 

The move represents the first time that an autonomous driving company has removed the safety driver from a commercial delivery route on the middle mile anywhere in the world.

The trucks transport online grocery orders from a Walmart fulfilment centre, or “dark store” to a nearby Walmart neighbourhood market grocery store. 

The program initially began in December 2020 after the retail corporation got approval from the Arkansas state highway commission. 

Walmart and Gatik revealed that, since August, they have been operating two autonomous box trucks without a safety driver, on a seven-mile loop daily for 12 hours. 

READ MORE: Walmart takes swipe at Amazon’s Whole Foods delivery price increase

“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,” Walmart US senior vice president of last mile Tom Ward said. 

“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.”

Gatik chief executive and co-founder Gautam Narang added: “This milestone signifies a revolutionary breakthrough for the autonomous trucking industry,”

“Our deployment in Bentonville is not a one-time demonstration. 

“These are frequent, revenue-generating, daily runs that our trucks are completing safely in a range of conditions on public roads, demonstrating the commercial and technical advantages of fully driverless operations on the middle mile. 

“We’re thrilled to enable Walmart’s customers to reap the benefits.”

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