Following the state’s new law allowing autonomous vehicles, Palo Alto, California-based Gatik was approved by the Arkansas Highway Commissioner to launch a commercial service with Walmart, Walmart said in a press release.
“With the help of Gatik, we’re making sure we stay on the cutting edge of grocery pickup by testing an autonomous vehicle to move customer orders on a two-mile route in Bentonville between two of our stores,” Tom Ward, senior vice president of digital operations for Walmart U.S., said in a news release.
“We aim to learn more about the logistics of adding autonomous vehicles into our online grocery ecosystem, operation process changes and more opportunities to incorporate this emerging technology,” Ward said.
The two-year-old self-driving startup Gatik will launch the pilot program with its modified Ford Transit Connect vans for 10 runs a day during daylight, seven days a week.
Gatik has raised $4.5 million in seed funding in June led by Innovation Endeavors, with Dynamo Venture Capital, AngelPad, Fontinalis Partners and Trucks Venture Capital also participating. Gatik said it would soon announce more commercial partnerships. Gatik was started by CEO Gautam Narang and CTO Arjun Narang, along with Chief Engineer Apeksha Kumavat.
Earlier this year, Walmart announced a partnership to test grocery delivery via autonomous vehicle in Surprise, Ariz., with California autonomous car startup company Udelv. In partnership with Google, Walmart rolled Walmart Voice Order in April, a voice assistant to make it easier for customers to shop for groceries.
Walmart has been a pioneer in integrating the latest technology into its retail operations. The retailer previously rolled out increased one-day deliveries to better compete with Amazon.
Kroger and H-E-B are among other retailers testing similar technology.