Walmart is stepping up its commitment to autonomous deliveries by taking on temperature-controlled AVs.
Walmart announced this week that following a successful pilot with AV middle-mile specialists Gatik, they’re taking their next step forward with Gatik’s self-driving box trucks which are built on Ford Transit chassis cabs.
“When we begin incorporating driverless Box Trucks into the Bentonville operation next year, the pilot will continue as it always has,” said Tom Ward, senior vice president of Walmart’s customer products.
“But now, we’ll be working with Gatik to monitor and gather new data to help us stay on the leading edge of driverless autonomous vehicles,” Ward continued. “Going driverless isn’t our only development, either. We’ve tested multi-temperature Autonomous Box Trucks on a small scale in Bentonville and have learned how we might use autonomous vehicles to transfer customer orders from a dark store to a live store.”
A dark store is used to stock items for order fulfillment but isn’t open to the public. Last year Walmart began an autonomous vehicle pilot with Gatik to move customer orders on a two-mile route between a dark store and a Neighborhood Market in Bentonville.
“Since then, we’ve safely driven more than 70,000 operational miles in autonomous mode with a safety driver,” Ward said.
The expanded pilot with Gatik will include a second location to test an even longer delivery route and a second use case – delivering items from a Supercenter to a Walmart pickup point, a designated location where customers can pick up their orders. The Autonomous Box Trucks in Louisiana will initially operate with a safety driver.
The operation will begin early next year on a 20-mile route between New Orleans and Metairie, Louisiana.
“This unlocks the opportunity for customers who live further away from our store in New Orleans to benefit from the convenience and ease of Walmart’s pickup service,” Ward said.