Already making money with Walmart
Autonomous electric vehicles in the shape of box trucks are coming to roads near you. And, if you happen to live in the New Orleans, Louisiana area, you might spot one very soon. Gatik, an outfit specializing in bringing driverless tech to business-to-business (B2B) short-haul trucking, has just kicked off a program that adds electrification to its strategy.
As you may have guessed from the image above, its partner in this first project is Walmart. The Arkansas-based retailer, which has announced its own total electrification intentions (though only be 2040), has its considerable fingers in a number of electric-vehicle pies. It has dozens of the Tesla Semi on pre-order, and has joined with Cruise to bring autonomous delivery to its customers in Scottsdale, Arizona, for example.
If your a
car truck person, you may have noticed that the vehicle featured in the photo above is a Ford Transit Chassis Cab upfitted with a box. While Ford does have an e-Transit van coming this year, it doesn’t yet offer this sort of configuration. That’s where another Gatik partner comes in.
Company co-founder and CEO Gautam Narang explains the advantages of electrification thusly: “The B2B short-haul market is ideally suited to electric technology thanks to the route lengths involved. Trucks can charge while they’re being loaded, enabling continuous service during operational hours.”
Speaking of route lengths, according to a previous statement by Walmart, the trucks will service a 20-mile route between New Orleans and Metairie, Louisiana. And while the vehicles, decked out in an assortment of sensor suites, are billed as autonomous, they will have “safety” drivers behind the wheel for now.
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