Walmart has expanded its autonomous vehicle pilot with Gatik to make its existing route in Bentonville, Ark. completely driverless, and has added a second program in Louisiana that is set to launch in early 2021. Both pilots utilize Gatik’s multi-temperature Autonomous Box Trucks to carry out their operations.
Walmart currently uses the trucks to deliver products down a two-mile route between a local dark store and a Neighborhood Market. The retailer has safely driven more than 70,000 operational miles in autonomous mode, although with a safety driver in the vehicle, which helped Walmart gather the data needed to take the next step and remove direct human intervention.
The new route will involve a 20-mile trip between New Orleans and Metairie, La. This pilot will deliver items from a Supercenter to a designated Walmart pickup point where customers can collect their orders.
“With 90% of Americans living within 10 miles of a Walmart, a closer store isn’t always the answer,” wrote Tom Ward, SVP of Customer Product, Walmart U.S. in a blog post. “Perhaps it’s just a pickup location with an autonomous vehicle making deliveries on a constant loop. Our trials with Gatik are just two of many use cases we’re testing with autonomous vehicles, and we’re excited to continue learning how we might incorporate them in a delivery ecosystem.”
Walmart’s other autonomous pilots include a fresh grocery delivery program in Surprise, Ariz. that launched in Feb. 2019, and an on-demand drone delivery pilot in Fayette, N.C. that started in September 2020.