Walmart looks to expand its futuristic delivery capabilities with a new driverless truck trial in its home state of Arkansas

Metairie, Louisiana consumers can also participate in Walmart’s new expanded study.

  • Walmart is expanding its pilot with the autonomous vehicle manufacturer Gatik.
  • Starting in 2021, Gatik’s “autonomous panel vans” will fulfill customer orders without a safety driver, driving products between a darkened store and a Walmart neighborhood market in Bentonville, Arkansas.
  • “We will work with Gatik to monitor and collect new data to keep us on the cutting edge of driverless autonomous vehicles,” said Tom Ward, senior vice president, customer products, Walmart.
  • You can find more stories on the Business Insider homepage.

A Walmart neighborhood market in Bentonville, Arkansas will soon receive shipments delivered via a driverless panel van as part of the retail giant’s expanded pilot with autonomous vehicle startup Gatik.

According to Walmart, the Gatik pilot has traveled 70,000 operational miles “in autonomous mode” since launching in 2019 with a security driver behind the wheel to oversee deliveries. Walmart’s expansion of initial testing will result in Gatik’s “Multi-Temperature Autonomous Box Trucks” driving the same two-mile route without a driver starting next year.

“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.

The original pilot in Bentonville, Arkansas, also the headquarters of the retail giant, included Gatik’s vehicles moving orders between the aforementioned Walmart Neighborhood Market location and a “dark store” two miles away. Walmart Dark Stores contain merchandise but are not open to the public.

“We will be working with Gatik to monitor and collect new data so we can stay on top of the latest driverless autonomous vehicles,” said Ward.

Walmart also announced that its first pilot, Gatik, will now expand to Louisiana with a safety driver so that both companies can test “an even longer delivery route”. The retailer has a Gatik vehicle move customer orders from a Walmart Supercenter in New Orleans to a customer pick-up location in Metairie, Louisiana, 20 miles away.

With Walmart looking to compete against rivals like Amazon in retail delivery wars, autonomous vehicles will ultimately play an important role in its ongoing strategy to improve delivery times for customers. This also applies to drones, as the company has already approved first pilots with three drone companies, including DroneUp and Flytrex.

Ward previously said that the company’s express delivery service, which offers two-hour delivery on a range of products, has reached 2,800 stores and 65% of households in the US since its launch in April.

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