Gatica’s self-driving trucks will deliver goods from Georgia-Pacific to Sam’s Club stores

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Gatik, an autonomous vehicle startup focused on the “middle mile,” will begin using its self-driving trucks this summer to deliver paper goods from Georgia and the Pacific, such as Dixie cups and Northern Quilt toilet paper, to several dozen Sam’s Club stores in Dallas and Forte. Worth the area.

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Deliveries, due to begin in July, are part of a multi-year commercial partnership with Georgia Pacific and KBX, the transportation division of Koch Industries. As part of the partnership, Gatik will deliver goods 24 hours a day, seven days a week through a network of 34 Sam’s Club locations. Autonomous vans will cover up to 300 miles a day.

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But the ambition is much bigger, Gatik co-founder and CEO Gautam Narang told TechCrunch.

“The first step is to make sure the network is ready for AV adoption,” Narang said. “The goal is long term. We want to deploy our trucks and prepare the network for expansion across the country.”

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Narang also hopes to prove that using small 26-foot class 6 vans for short hauls will bring better and more mature economic benefits than larger class 8 semi-trailers.

“It makes sense to use Class 6 because for each of our customers, the focus is on on-time deliveries, frequent deliveries, and not having to wait for a full truckload (before leaving),” he said, adding that this partnership will be the first time the technology Gatik will disrupt the Class 8 short-range regional network.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic exposed supply chain and logistics challenges and opportunities, Gatic was something of an exception. The company has built its business model around short-haul logistics rather than consumer-driven like many other AV startups working on street bots and taxi robots.

Gatik developed and is currently deploying its “middle mile” autonomous vehicle technology based on the belief that small, autonomous vans are more efficient than Class 8 trucks in getting goods from distribution centers to retail outlets.

Major retailers have taken notice.

Gatic came out of hiding in 2019 with a bang, making Walmart an investor and buyer. Initially, Gatik launched a pilot program in Bentonville, Arkansas to ship items from medium-sized Walmart order centers to nearby markets.

Since then, Gatic has been making deliveries for Walmart in Louisiana. fully unmanned operations (referring to the lack of a safe driver behind the wheel) in Bentonville and launched a pilot project with Loblaw Companies Limited in Ontario, Canada. The company has also expanded its operating network to include major distribution centers.

Last year, Gatik opened an autonomous vehicle manufacturing plant in Texas with a new $85 million capital injection from Koch Disruptive Technologies, the venture arm of Koch Industries, as well as existing investors Innovation Endeavors, Wittington Ventures, FM Capital, Dynamo Ventures, Trucks VC . , AngelPad and Intact Ventures.

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