- Since August, Walmart and Gatik have operated two autonomous box trucks, without a safety driver, on a 7-mile loop daily for 12 hours.
- Walmart has forged partnerships with other autonomous vehicle startups, including Udelv, Google’s Waymo, and Nuro.
- Other supermarket chains like Kroger are turning to startups using vending machines.
Walmart “shakes hands” with Gatik to test self-driving trucks
As of August 2021, Walmart will begin delivering deliveries using self-driving trucks from startup Gatik on a 7-mile (more than 11km) detour 12 hours a day.
Walmart is using fully automated trucks to bring groceries from Walmart’s distribution center to the Walmart Neighborhood Market grocery store, which will cut costs and address ongoing labor shortages in the retail supply chain.
“Through our work with Gatik, we’ve identified that autonomous box trucks offer an efficient, safe and sustainable solution for transporting goods on repeatable routes between our stores,” said Tom Ward, Walmart senior vice president.
Walmart is testing self-driving Gatik vehicles as part of its transition to a “hub and spoke” model that optimizes its transportation network. Using automated vehicles will also give store employees more time to perform other tasks, including picking and packing online orders and customer support.
Walmart and Gatik are running similar tests in the New Orleans-area using an electric box truck with a safety driver to move online grocery orders from a Walmart Supercenter to a customer pickup location.
Walmart establishes relationships with self-driving car companies
Walmart has forged partnerships with other self-driving car startups, including Udelv, Google’s Waymo, and Nuro – the first company approved for driverless delivery in California.
In November 2020, Walmart partnered with Cruise, GM’s autonomous vehicle startup, on a pilot delivery program that used self-driving electric vehicles to take orders to the door in the Scottsdale area, Arizona, USA. Customers will order from their local Walmart and get free shipping by one of Cruise’s all-electric self-driving Chevy Bolts.
Supermarket chains use vending machines
The Kroger supermarket chain has tested autonomous delivery with start-up Nuro since 2018 and completed thousands of “last mile” deliveries in the Houston, Texas area. Kroger is also using automated warehouses to launch online grocery delivery in Florida and other states where it does not have brick and mortar locations.
Albertsons, which operates supermarkets including Safeway and Kings, is testing “last mile” delivery with start-up Tortoise in Northern California. Employees fill with groceries the remote-controlled Tortoise carts at the store. Tortoise “drivers” that use a Xbox controller to navigate to the customer’s home then remotely the carts.
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