When middle-mile autonomous vehicle company Gatik closed an $85 million Series B funding round last month, the announcement came with the news that “several strategic investors” had participated in the round.
On Tuesday, Gatik revealed that Goodyear Ventures, Goodyear’s (NASDAQ: GT) venture capital fund, participated in the new funding round and announced it would collaborate with the tire maker as it develops its autonomous middle-mile vehicle. The size of the investment was not specified.
“Gatik’s mission to deliver goods safely and efficiently using autonomous vehicles aligns with our investment strategy, making them a great addition to our portfolio, which already includes key autonomous delivery players in the long-haul and last-mile delivery markets,” said Abhijit Ganguly, managing director, Goodyear Ventures. “We believe this investment is a strong strategic fit for Goodyear as we seek to learn more about the implications of autonomous technologies in middle-mile delivery and logistics.”
Gatik will utilize tires equipped with Goodyear’s tire intelligence technology powered by Goodyear SightLine. SightLine collects data on tires and communicates tire health back to users. In the future, Goodyear expects SightLine to also transmit road conditions to drivers, vehicles, operators and even municipalities.
“By leveraging our advanced tire intelligence solutions, Goodyear can help improve vehicle performance and safety in autonomous transportation,” said Chris Helsel, Goodyear’s senior vice president, global operations and chief technology officer. “Together, Goodyear and Gatik will combine our innovative technologies to help bring more efficiency in the increasingly important middle-mile segment.”
Currently, SightLline transmits data on leaks, inflation pressure, parked vehicle tire monitoring, tire identification, remaining tread depth and mileage, and estimated tire and wear.
Gatik said it expects the Goodyear SightLine technology to help reduce fuel and maintenance costs for users of its vehicles.
“The benefits of Goodyear’s tire intelligence technology are grounded in enhancing safety, increasing efficiency and reducing costs – principles which are absolutely fundamental to Gatik’s mission and success,” said Arjun Narang, CTO and co-founder of Gatik. “This collaboration will enable us to further increase the value we offer our customers across the continent and help define new standards in safety and sustainability for the B2B short-haul sector.”
In August, Gatik announced it was expanding its fleet of Class 3-6 multi-temperature autonomous box trucks to Texas, where the firm will join the AllianceTexas Mobility Innovation Zone (MIZ).
MIZ is a purpose-built industrial development in North Texas designed as a hub of supply chain innovation. The development plays host to a number of companies, including autonomous vehicle developer TuSimple, drone companies and railroads. All the companies participating in the program are involved in moving live freight.
Gatik has been running pilot programs with Walmart (NYSE: WMT) in Arkansas and New Orleans, and with Loblaw Cos. (TSX: L) in Ontario, Canada, but the Texas deployment marks the first use of 20- and 26-foot box trucks; until now all the tests have been run using 11-foot box trucks. It is also the first multi-tenant site Gatik will operate from.
In Arkansas, Gatik’s autonomous vehicles move items along a two-mile route from a Walmart dark store (a store that stocks items for fulfillment but isn’t open to the public) to a Walmart neighborhood market in Bentonville.
Earlier this year, Gatik announced a partnership with commercial vehicle manufacturer Isuzu North America. The collaboration will see Gatik install its autonomous driving technology into Isuzu N-Series truck models to create a Level 4 self-driving vehicle. The first test vehicles are expected to be deployed later this year.
Isuzu offers the N-Series in several capacities spanning Class 3 with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 12,000 pounds and payload capacity of 6,796 pounds, up to a Class 5 vehicle with GVWR of 17,950 pounds and payload capacity up to 12,289 pounds. The low-cab-forward-designed vehicles are typically available with either a gas or diesel engine option. The test vehicle is an Isuzu NRR Class 5 19,500 GVRW diesel model.
Gatik’s last funding round involved Koch Disruptive Technologies, with participation from existing investors Innovation Innovation Endeavours, Wittington Ventures, FM Capital, Dynamo Ventures, Trucks VC, Intact Ventures.