Autonomous vehicle startup Gatik announced this week it will start delivering paper goods like toilet paper and Dixie products to 34 Walmart-owned Sam’s Club locations in the Dallas-Forth Worth area. The company said its self-driving trucks will help double the number of weekly runs between Georgia-Pacific fulfillment centers and the warehouse chain from 1-2 per week to 2-4 per week.
“This is the first time class 6 autonomous box trucks have been deployed to disrupt short-haul logistics networks traditionally involving class 8 trucks,” Gatik said in a blog post. Class 8 trucks are mostly big rigs that have a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 33,000 pounds.
Walmart already uses Gatik autonomous trucks in the retailer’s hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas, between its dark store and neighborhood market. That’s a roughly 7-mile route. But trucks in the Dallas area will be driving up to 300 miles a day, according to Gatik.
Autonomous vehicle startup Gatik partnered with Georgia-Pacific and KBX to deliver paper goods to Sam’s Clubs. Credit: Gatik
Walmart already uses Gatik self-driving vehicles between its dark store and neighborhood market in Bentonville, Arkansas. Credit: Gatik
Gatik said it was the first autonomous trucking company to remove the safety driver from a commercial delivery route. Credit: Gatik
“We’re not attempting to disrupt the market — the market has already been disrupted, and we’re simply providing the solution,” Gatik said.
Along with safety concerns, there are fears fully automated trucks would put truckers out of business. One study said automated long-haul trucking could impact 30,000 to more than 500,000 jobs.
But other industry experts predict jobs will just look different, even healthier and safer, highlighting hybrid arrangements where trucks can drive longer hours than humans are allowed, but humans are still needed for logistics, city driving and unloading.
In addition, the demand for trucking goods is only going up — especially amid a boom of e-commerce shopping — while the country is in the middle of a major trucker shortage. The American Trucking Associations said the country was short a historic 80,000 truck drivers in 2021, and that it could double to 160,000 by 2030.
SIMONE DEL ROSARIO: IT’S HAPPENING. SELF DRIVING TRUCKS ARE TAKING OVER – AT LEAST IN THE DFW.
AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE STARTUP GATIK ANNOUNCED IT’LL BE DELIVERING PAPER GOODS LIKE TOILET PAPER AND DIXIE PRODUCTS TO 34 SAM’S CLUB LOCATIONS IN THE DALLAS-FORT WORTH AREA.
THE COMPANY SAYS IT’S “THE FIRST TIME CLASS 6 AUTONOMOUS BOX TRUCKS HAVE BEEN DEPLOYED TO DISRUPT SHORT-HAUL LOGISTICS NETWORKS TRADITIONALLY INVOLVING CLASS 8 TRUCKS.” THOSE ARE THE BIG ONES.
PROMISING DOUBLE THE NORMAL DELIVERIES TO THE WAREHOUSE CHAIN WITH ROUND THE CLOCK CITY DRIVING.
SAM’S CLUB PARENT COMPANY WALMART ALREADY USES GATIK’S TRUCKS IN ITS ARKANSAS HOMETOWN BETWEEN ITS DARK STORE AND NEIGHBORHOOD MARKET. THAT’S A 7 MILE ROUTE.
BUT TRUCKS IN THE DFW WILL BE DRIVING UP TO 300 MILES A DAY – WITH NO ONE BEHIND THE WHEEL.
GATIK SAYS, “WE’RE NOT ATTEMPTING TO DISRUPT THE MARKET – THE MARKET HAS ALREADY BEEN DISRUPTED, AND WE’RE SIMPLY PROVIDING THE SOLUTION.”
FEARS ARE FULLY AUTOMATED TRUCKS WOULD PUT TRUCKERS OUT OF BUSINESS. ONE STUDY SAYS AUTOMATED LONG HAUL TRUCKING COULD IMPACT 30,000-500,000 JOBS.
BUT OTHER INDUSTRY EXPERTS PREDICT JOBS WILL JUST LOOK DIFFERENT – EVEN HEALTHIER AND SAFER, HIGHLIGHTING HYBRID ARRANGEMENTS WHERE TRUCKS CAN DRIVE LONGER HOURS THAN HUMANS ARE ALLOWED – BUT HUMANS ARE STILL NEEDED FOR LOGISTICS AND UNLOADING.
NOT TO MENTION, DEMAND FOR TRUCKING GOODS IS ONLY GOING UP WHILE THE COUNTRY IS IN THE MIDDLE OF A MAJOR TRUCKER SHORTAGE.
THE AMERICAN TRUCKING ASSOCIATIONS SAYS WE WERE SHORT 80-THOUSAND DRIVERS IN 2021, AND THAT COULD DOUBLE BY 2030.
IN NEW YORK FOR JUST BUSINESS I’M SIMONE DEL ROSARIO.