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The state’s governor signed the bill making it the 25th state to allow AVs without safety drivers
May 23, 2022
Walmart has received the OK to expand its driverless truck deliveries as Kansas recently became the latest state to allow fully autonomous vehicles (AVs) on its roads and the company’s partner Gatik has already said it will expand its driverless truck delivery service there.
The breakthrough came following the signing of a Senate Bill by Governor Laura Kelly and means the Sunflower State is the 25th to permit the use of AVs without safety drivers.
The bill covers driverless vehicles that weigh less than 34,000 pounds and have only two axles, which means robotaxis and Class 8 tractor-trailer rigs will get the green light alongside Gatik’s light and medium-duty trucks.
Gatik, which is based in Mountain View, California, has not yet confirmed officially who it will partner with for driverless deliveries in Kansas. But given the company’s operations with Walmart elsewhere and the fact the pair teamed up to lobby for legislation, the retail giant is the obvious bet.
Gatik welcomed the news by pointing out in a press release that it had “worked closely with Walmart and key stakeholders … to develop and propose legislation that prioritizes the safe and structured introduction of autonomous vehicles in the state.”
The company added that prior to operations getting underway, it would work closely with state and local authorities in Kansas to provide education and training sessions to law enforcement and first responders.
Gatik, which was formed in 2017 and began commercial operations two years later, has established itself as a leader in autonomous Level 4 middle mile logistics and uses a fleet of Class 3-6 light and medium-duty box trucks from Isuzu. The company focuses on short-haul, repeatable routes for the retail industry.
It now has vehicles operating in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Ontario, and boasts a 100% safety record. Last year it launched the world’s first fully driverless commercial delivery service with Walmart in Bentonville, Arkansas, moving customer orders between a Walmart ‘dark store” and a Neighborhood Market following 18 months of successful deliveries with operators. Gatik and Walmart previously teamed up to propose legislation in that state, too.
Richard Steiner, head of policy, Gatik, said the decision made sense for Kansas.
“We applaud Governor Kelly for taking a proactive approach to enabling the safe deployment of autonomous vehicles, and look forward to laying down roots in the state of Kansas, creating a wealth of new jobs and delivering essential goods to Kansans with speed and efficiency,” he said.
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