|Gatik marries self-driving tech with electric trucks|
Self-driving truck company Gatik thrives on consistency.
In the realm of autonomy, the company's goal has been to connect distribution centers with specific hubs and stores. Its trucks ply the same routes day after day, constraining the scenarios that self-driving systems face into manageable chunks.
Route certainty is also helping Gatik develop and deploy electric trucks. By knowing exactly how many miles trucks will drive and by installing chargers at hubs and destinations, electrification in short-haul logistics can work.
Gatik launched three EVs in its fleet Wednesday in conjunction with its partnership with Walmart. The trucks connect a Walmart Supercenter in New Orleans with a pickup location in Metairie, La., a suburb. It's about 20 miles between the two, well within the 120-mile range of the trucks, which can recharge while goods are loaded and unloaded.
"It's become very clear to us in multiple conversations with customers over the last year that the marriage of electrification and short-haul logistics, they're perfectly suited for each other," said Richard Steiner, head of policy and communications at Gatik.The three Class 3, 12-foot trucks are Ford Transit 350 HDs, electrified in collaboration with Via Motors Inc. Given the trucks often carry groceries, refrigeration's needs add an unusual wrinkle to power consumption in freight hauling.
But savings on maintenance and fuel — not to mention helping customers such as Walmart reach corporate sustainability goals — make electrified trucks worthwhile. With so many COVID-19-era developments in delivery, Gatik has set an example.
-- Pete Bigelow