With the nation facing a shortage of truckers, solutions to supply chain problems are coming in unfamiliar ways. One answer to the problem is an increase in autonomous trucking, and Gatik, a “pioneer of driverless technology,” is working to make that happen. Bloomberg’s Brendan Case reports:
Self-driving trucks will soon make deliveries to Walmart Inc.’s Sam’s Club stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, marking a significant expansion of autonomous vehicles operating in live traffic.
Gatik, a pioneer of driverless technology, will partner with Georgia-Pacific to drop off goods such as plates, Dixie cups and toilet paper to 34 of the warehouse stores starting in July, the companies said in a statement Tuesday. The midsize trucks with 26-foot trailers are categorized as Class 6 vehicles, which are smaller than the Class 8 big rigs that currently handle the job.
The deal expands Gatik’s driverless-truck operations on the busy roads of the nation’s fourth-largest metropolitan area, while building on autonomous service to Walmart facilities that it already handles in Arkansas and Louisiana. The trucks will operate on fixed routes around the clock, seven days a week, and Gatik has its eye on expanding beyond North Texas.
“We’re starting out in the Dallas market but the focus will be on rolling it out nationwide,” Gatik Chief Executive Officer Gautam Narang said in an interview. The goal is to disrupt short-haul networks that were traditionally served by trucks with 53-foot trailers, he said.
Georgia-Pacific, which is owned by closely held Koch Industries, said the Gatik partnership would eventually reduce cost and complexity in its supply chain. The trucks will be integrated into the transportation operations of KBX Logistics, another Koch company.
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