Autonomous Walmart trucks running without safety drivers

Gatik autonomous truck at Walmart in Bentonville, Arkansas

Autonomous trucking technology upstart Gatik, in collaboration with Walmart, is now operating daily without a safety driver behind the wheel of its delivery route in Bentonville, Arkansas. Gatik is moving customer orders between a Walmart dark store and a Neighborhood Market via a fleet of multi-temperature autonomous box trucks.

Gatik claims its deployment with Walmart in Arkansas represents the first time that an autonomous trucking company has removed the safety driver from a commercial delivery route on the middle mile anywhere in the world.

Gatik’s fully driverless operations, which began in August, involve consistent, repeated delivery runs multiple times per day, seven days per week on public roads. Tom Ward, senior vice president of last mile at Walmart U.S., said the company has identified autonomous box trucks as "efficient, safe and sustainable solution for transporting goods on repeatable routes between our stores."

“Arkansas and Gatik have shifted into the future with Gatik’s self-driving delivery truck,” said Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. “It is fitting that Arkansas, which is home to the greatest retail companies in the world, is the launching pad for this innovation in retail delivery.”

"Our deployment in Bentonville is not a one-time demonstration," said Gatik CEO and co-founder Gautam Narang, who called the fully driverless run a milestone signifying "a revolutionary breakthrough for the autonomous trucking industry. 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.”

In December 2020, Gatik and Walmart received the Arkansas State Highway Commission’s first ever approval to remove the safety driver from Gatik’s autonomous trucks, following the completion of 18 months’ successful operations. As part of its roadmap to operating fully driverless, Gatik undertook a comprehensive stakeholder engagement strategy, involving state and local leadership and emergency services, and will continue to hold ongoing informational workshops concerning its ground-breaking autonomous operations.

Since commencing commercial operations in 2019, Gatik has achieved a 100% safety record ​​across multiple operational sites in North America, including Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana and Ontario. Gatik focuses exclusively on fixed, repeatable delivery routes to maximize safety, using proprietary, commercial-grade autonomous technology that is purpose built for B2B short-haul logistics.