Arkansas shoppers who like ordering their groceries online and picking them up at their local Walmart will soon get a bit of extra help from a self-driving robot—though few will realize it. In a deal announced this week, Walmart will use robo-vans from startup Gatik to help move goods from its Supercenter in Rogers, Arkansas, to a Neighborhood Market in nearby Bentonville, where customers can get their bags with laundry detergent, paper towels, potato chips, and whatever else.
In the pilot program, Palo Alto, California-based Gatik will run three of its modified Ford Transit Connect vans in this “middle mile” logistics scheme, making up to 10 runs a day, seven days a week, during daylight. With human safety operators behind the wheel as backups, the vans will follow one of two routes between the stores: a roundabout five-mile (one-way) trip that avoids some tricky driving scenarios, or a more direct, uncompromising two-mile shot. “The main aim is to do that repeatedly, safely, without a safety driver onboard,” says Gatik CEO Gautam Narang.
Source: Ars Technica