The retail giant, Walmart has stepped up operations in the pandemic by increasing its offerings online, offering COVID-19 vaccines (under agreement with government authorities) and the latest is that they will start using driverless trucks early next year for deliveries in specific areas.
This partnership of driverless trucks has been made between the retailer and Gatik. Gatik is a startup which is based in Palo Alto and Toronto. It has developed multi-temperature box trucks with custom software and sensors, which control the vehicle’s movements and navigation, safely, without a human driver.
This year, there have been several ongoing trials on a two-mile route between a Walmart store and a company location in Bentonville, Arkansas, with a driver onboard for safety. Next year they intend to send driverless trucks.
Tom Ward who is the senior VP of customer product at Walmart released a statement: “This achievement marks a new milestone that signifies the first ever driverless operation carried out on the supply chain middle mile for both Gatik and Walmart,”
The retail giant is also working with other companies including Waymo, Ford and Cruise, who also supply driverless vehicles. They want to incorporate more autonomous vehicles, that can make deliveries “in a constant loop.”
Walmart has been expanding its online operations as many of its customers have been reluctant to physically visit its stores. It launched Walmart+ program, one of its biggest operations, in September 2020, to expand its online presence.