Tyson Foods Inc. of Springdale said it will partner with Gatik of Mountain View, California, to use autonomous trucks to deliver products in northwest Arkansas to the company’s distribution facilities.
The partnership is scheduled to begin this week with one truck, a Tyson Foods spokesperson said. Three additional trucks will go into operation over the next few months.
The trucks will be 26-foot refrigerated box trucks that operate 18 hours a day to deliver cold and frozen products from a production plant to facilities in Rogers and Springdale. The trucks will have a temperature-controlled box on the estimated 10-12 mile routes.
A safety driver will be present in the cab with the ability to take control of the truck if needed.
“At Tyson Foods, we are innovating and using automation throughout our business, including in transportation,” said Patrick Simmons, Tyson Foods’ vice president of transportation. “This partnership allows us to strategically place our drivers where they are needed most while still reliably and safely transporting protein from the plant to distribution centers.”
Tyson Foods said the program could save as much as $900,000 for the company. The company said no drivers will be affected by the use of autonomous trucks as current drivers will be moved to routes more in demand.
“We’re excited to partner with Tyson Foods to reduce cost and complexity within their regional distribution architecture,” Gatik CEO Gautam Narang. “This is a significant moment for Gatik as we introduce Class 7 autonomous box trucks into our fleet. Our partnership with Tyson is poised to drive long-term innovation and supply chain resiliency while delivering tangible, near-term value.”
Tyson in April announced it had partnered with Kodiak Robotics Inc. of Mountain View, California, and trucking firm C.R. England Inc. of Salt Lake City, on a pilot program for autonomous delivery of protein products in Texas.
Other public companies in Arkansas have explored driverless technology, including Walmart Inc. and J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. of Lowell.