Gatik’s robotic delivery trucks haul goods for Walmart in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Batik is a Silicon Valley-based robotics technology developer that helps with “middle-mile” deliveries. He has started hauling Walmart’s goods in autonomous trucks without any human support.
Batik, which has been running deliveries for Walmart since 2019, is now operating two fully autonomous trucks. These trucks haul goods on a fixed, 7.7-mile route from an e-commerce distribution center to a Walmart Neighborhood Marketplace store. This is the first independent trucking company to operate commercial delivery routes without human support.
Gautam Narang, Gatik CEO and co-founder of Gatik, says that “this is the milestone that has been working towards since the company’s foundation four years ago.” Forbes. There’s an additional safety feature. “There is someone in the passenger seat which has limited control. This person can also press the stop button, and then we have a chase vehicle. The announcement comes at a time when autonomous delivery tech for trucks and deliveries seems to be moving faster than personal cars and on-demand robotaxi service. Gatik’s announcement coincides with an high focus on supply chain issues. As developers of robotic trucks such TuSimple Aurora, Embark, and Embark increase funding through public stock offering and last-mile robot delivery company Nuro raises billions in private funding rounds.
Batik, a close-held company, makes revenue hauling consumer goods to Walmart in Arkansas and Louisiana. Batik also operates Canada’s Loblaw supermarkets and expands delivery services for Texas businesses. Unlike TuSimple’s robotic semis for long-haul highway trucking, or Nuro’s small, street-legal grocery/food delivery robots, Batik focuses on hauling goods to businesses on fixed, predictable “middle miles” with slight variation. Waymo is developing robotaxis and big rigs for long-haul highway trucking. It also provides middle-mile delivery services to commercial customers in suburban Phoenix.
Walmart states that the goal of driverless delivery in Bentonville will be to make e-commerce orders fill faster and increase asset utilization. Tom Ward, senior vice-president at Walmart, said, “Through our collaboration with Gatik, we’ve identified autonomous box trucks offer a cost-effective, safe, and sustainable solution for transporting goods along repeatable routes among our stores.”
Batik and Walmart have not provided financial information on their tech partnership. According to Pitchbook, Gatik has raised $114.5 million over the last four years and is now valued at $854million. It’s currently developing autonomous trucks with Isuzu and operates 25 delivery cars in Texas, Louisiana, and Toronto.
Batik is a 2021 Forbes AI 50 company smaller than the giants like Waymo or Cruise in the AV space. The increased focus on autonomous vehicles for deliveries is making it easier for top tech talent to be recruited, Narang says.” That vision is resonated well with some of these engineers who have been working in this area for a while. “The exciting part in this space is seeing their work become commercialized,” he stated. “The short-term focus we have on them is that they resonate well with some talent we have attracted to other AV companies.”