March 17, 2023
Autonomous trucking company Gatik has confirmed a multi-year deal to transport customer orders for Kroger in Texas.
The collaboration, which is set to get under way in the second quarter, will see Gatik’s medium-duty autonomous box trucks carry out middle mile deliveries for Kroger, the second-largest grocery store chain and supermarkets in the U.S.
The vehicles are expected to transport fresh products from a customer fulfilment center in Dallas to different retail locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Four trucks will make at least four runs a day, seven days a week with each round trip likely to average 60 miles. The vehicles, which initially manned by a safety monitor, can operate on both highways and in urban settings.
According to Gatik, the autonomous program would enable Kroger to increase its delivery frequency and reliability, while cutting costs. The service, which covers both store produce and e-commerce deliveries, is currently carried out by larger, human-driven semi-trucks, which make far fewer daily trips.
Gatik’s vehicles feature a cold chain-capable 20’ foot box that can transport ambient, refrigerated, and frozen goods quickly.
“These autonomous box trucks will help us continue our commitment to creating a seamless shopping experience – where customers can access their favorite fresh foods, with zero compromise on value or convenience,” said Raúl Bujalil, Kroger’s vice president of supply chain strategy.
The tie-up with Kroger is just the latest in a series of high-profile partnerships for Gatik.
Last year the Mountain View-based company announced deals to integrate its trucks into the e-commerce logistics network of shipping and mailing firm Pitney Bowes, and also confirmed a delivery program to Sam’s Club stores.
And in 2021, it launched the world’s first fully driverless commercial delivery service with Walmart in Bentonville, Arkansas.
The company has found success by concentrating on short-haul, middle-mile logistics concentrated in single states such as Texas and Arkansas, where regulation is easier to comply with.
Gatik’s upward trajectory is in stark contrast to some of the problems encountered by other autonomous trucking companies. Significant job losses at TuSimple and the winding up of Embark, due to a lack of investment, illustrate the turbulence prevalent in the industry.
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