Gatik and Walmart Inc. of Bentonville have partnered for nearly three years on an autonomous truck pilot program (see Walmart, J.B. Hunt Take Lead in Driverless Technology).
Gatik trucks deliver goods from a Walmart fulfillment center to a Neighborhood Market in Bentonville, which are about 2 miles apart. The trip, though, covers 7 miles because the truck takes right-hand turns rather than lefts for safety precautions, which makes for a more circuitous route.
“One of the advantages of delivering goods, not people, [is that] people would likely complain if the route would take 5 to 7 minutes longer,” said Gatik’s Rich Steiner, adding that Gatik’s trucks can make left-handed turns safely. “A bag of groceries or a pallet of essential goods don’t complain if it takes a little bit longer. That gives us the luxury of taking the safest route, which is three right turns instead of one unprotected left. We will always take right turns if we can.”