Walmart Expands Autonomous Vehicle Delivery Pilot Program

Walmart (WMT) – Get the report will expand its self-driving vehicle effort with partner Gatik for deliveries between Walmart Arkansas properties, moving one step closer to the futuristic goal of getting goods from warehouses to shops to doors with little human interaction.

Walmart announced Tuesday that it will expand its pilot program of Gatik’s autonomous vans, which have been in service for more than a year, to include a two-mile stretch between a distribution center and a Walmart store in Bentonville, Ark., Walmarts Hometown to operate.

Taking people out of the equation is an extension of Walmart’s initial pilot program with Gatik, which started last July when Gatik’s multi-temperature autonomous vans operated the same two-mile route but with a driver on board.

“This achievement marks a new milestone in the first driverless operation in the middle mile of the supply chain for both Gatik and Walmart,” said Tom Ward, senior vice president of customer products for Walmart, in a statement.

Walmart also said it would test the technology on longer delivery routes by expanding the pilot program with Gatik to Louisiana, where it will focus on delivering customer orders to a specific pickup location. These tests will be carried out with a safety driver next year.

Self-driving technology has been on the radar of Walmart and other large retailers and grocery chains for a while. Kroger (KR) – Get the report has been working with Silicon Valley startup Nuro on a self-driving delivery option for more than two years, as has retail giant Amazon.com (AMZN) – Get the report.

Amazon and its self-driving autonomous division Zoox unveiled a four-person “robo-taxi” on Monday, a compact, multi-directional vehicle that can move people in dense urban environments without a driver.

Amazon partnered with Zoox, which it acquired for more than $ 1 billion last year, to accelerate its automation efforts on what is known as the “last mile” of package delivery, thereby reducing one of its persistently higher costs: the delivery person .

Other retailers and automakers have also worked on driverless vehicles. Waymo and General Motors’ (GM) – Get Report Cruise as well as Aurora Innovation founded by former Google alums (TogetL) – Report received, Uber (ABOUT) – Get report and Tesla (TSLA) – Get Report, everyone has made progress in creating Driverless Packs and People Movers.

Walmart shares rose $ 0.155 to $ 145.87 in premarket trading Tuesday.

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