Autonomous vehicle startup Gatik is already proving its technology can work in middle-mile delivery, but now it is adding a fully electric vehicle to the mix.
The company on Wednesday announced its electrification strategy, which includes the use of fully electric autonomous box trucks. The first vehicles will hit the roadways this month in New Orleans.
“Helping our customers as they meet their ambitious emissions targets is a key pillar of our long-term strategy. Our electric autonomous box trucks are defining a new frontier in sustainability while continuing to offer the cost reductions and shorter delivery times our autonomous solution is known for,” said Gautam Narang, CEO and co-founder of Gatik. “The B2B short-haul market is ideally suited to electric technology thanks to the route lengths involved. Trucks can charge while they’re being loaded, enabling continuous service during operational hours.”
The vehicles are built on a Ford Transit 350 HD chassis platform and feature Via Motors’ all-electric drive technology. The vehicles can travel up to 120 miles on a single charge and be fully charged in less than 1.5 hours.
Gatik’s autonomous delivery trucks feature boxes between 11 and 26 feet in length and can be customized to deliver goods of all types, from dry items to frozen foods.
The first electric models will be used by Walmart (NYSE: WMT), which is already involved in pilots with Gatik in Arkansas. The two companies launched an autonomous vehicle pilot last year moving customer orders on a two-mile route between a dark store (a store that stocks items for fulfillment but isn’t open to the public) and a Walmart neighborhood market in Bentonville, Arkansas.
In a post on Medium in December, Walmart’s Tom Ward, senior vice president of customer product, said the companies would begin testing the vehicles without a driver in the seat this year. All testing to date has included a safety driver in the vehicle.
Based in Palo Alto, California, Gatik closed a $25 million Series A round of funding in November 2020. The round was co-led by Wittington Ventures and Innovation Endeavors, with participation from FM Capital and Intact Ventures and existing investors including Dynamo Ventures, Fontinalis Partners and AngelPad.
Gatik also announced a multiyear partnership with Loblaw Cos. (TSX: L.TO), one of Canada’s largest grocers, to deploy a fleet of autonomous delivery vehicles in Toronto. The vehicles will deliver items from the supermarket’s automated picking facility to retail stores across the metro area.