Self-driving truck company Gatik and Walmart announced Tuesday that their autonomous vehicle pilot in Bentonville, Ark., is going driverless.
Last year, the companies began moving orders on a 2-mile route between a dark store, one that is not open to the public, and a neighborhood market, Walmart's name for its smaller-footprint locations. The autonomous vehicles successfully completed more than 70,000 miles on that route.
The expansion of the pilot, coming in 2021, will include the elimination of safety drivers on the Arkansas route and the start of a second, longer route in Louisiana with autonomous deliveries to a Walmart pickup point, a place where customers can receive goods they have ordered.
"This achievement marks an historic technological and regulatory milestone for the industry, signifying the first ever driverless operation carried out for the supply chain's middle mile — with the safety of all road users firmly entrenched at the heart of our operations," Gatik said in a statement.
The second test route spans 20 miles from New Orleans to Metairie, La. Gatik trucks will deliver customer orders from a Walmart Supercenter to a designated pickup point.
"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," the statement said.
The autonomous box trucks will operate with a safety driver on the new route initially.
In the statement, Walmart said: "We're excited to continue learning how we might incorporate them in a delivery ecosystem."
Gatik partnered with Walmart in 2018 in the effort to autonomously move goods.