Gatik, the autonomous vehicle startup focused on the “middle mile,” will start using its self-driving trucks this summer to deliver Georgia-Pacific stationery, such as Dixie cups and Northern Quilt toilet paper, to several dozen Sam’s Club. stores in the Dallas-Forth Value area.
Deliveries, expected to begin in July, are part of a multi-year commercial partnership with Georgia Pacific and KBX, the transportation arm of Koch Industries. Under the partnership, Gatik will deliver goods 24 hours a day, seven days a week through a network of 34 Sam’s Club locations. The autonomous trucks will drive up to 300 miles per day.
But the ambition is much greater, Gatik co-founder and CEO Gautam Narang told Vidak For Congress.
“The first phase aims to ensure that the network is ready for AV adoption,” said Narang. “The goal is the long term. We want to deploy our trucks and prepare the network for nationwide expansion.”
Narang also hopes to prove that using smaller 6-foot Class 6 rigids for short distances will yield better and more mature economic benefits than larger Class 8 semi-trucks.
“It makes sense to use Class 6 because for each of our customers the emphasis and focus is on just-in-time deliveries, high-frequency deliveries and not having to wait for the truck to be fully loaded (before departure),” he said. , adding that this collaboration will be the first time that Gatik’s technology will disrupt a Class 8 regional network at close range.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the challenges and opportunities around supply chain and logistics, Gatik was a bit of an outlier. The company built its business model on short-haul logistics, not consumers like so many other AV startups working on curbside bots and robotic axes.
Gatik developed its autonomous vehicle technology and is now applying it to the “middle mile”, assuming that using smaller self-driving trucks is more efficient than Class 8 trucks in commuting goods from distribution centers to retail locations.
Wholesalers have noticed this.
Gatik came out of stealth with a bang in 2019, landing Walmart as an investor and customer. Gatik initially launched a pilot program in Bentonville, Arkansas, delivering goods from medium-sized Walmart fulfillment centers to neighborhood markets.
Since then, Gatik has begun commuting goods for Walmart in Louisiana, embarking on completely driverless operations (meaning no safety driver is behind the wheel) in Bentonville, and launched a pilot with Loblaw Companies Limited in Ontario, Canada. The company has also expanded its operational network to include large-scale distribution centers.
Last year, Gatik opened an autonomous vehicle facility in Texas with a new injection of $85 million in capital from Koch Disruptive Technologies, the venture arm of Koch Industries, and existing investors Innovation Endeavours, Wittington Ventures, FM Capital, Dynamo Ventures, Trucks VC, AngelPad and Intact Ventures.