- Autonomous Gatik reefer trucks will haul Kroger loads between a Dallas grocery distribution center and nearby stores as part of a multi-year commercial agreement, according to a Wednesday news release.
- The 20-foot box trucks will operate seven days a week and make multiple deliveries each day. Shipments will include grocery items and general merchandise.
- Operations will start in Q2 of 2023, initially with safety drivers monitoring the self-driving vehicles, according to Gatik.
Gatik’s medium-duty trucks can haul refrigerated and frozen foods, enabling the AV tech company to serve as a middle-mile solution for grocery and other food supply chains.
“Through the collaboration, Kroger customers will be provided with increased speed and responsiveness when fulfilling e-commerce orders, which will, in turn, reduce costs and increase dedicated capacity across the supply chain’s middle mile,” Gatik’s CEO and co-founder Gautam Narang said in an email.
The AV tech company has Class 3–6 trucks deployed in markets that include Texas and Arkansas, partnering with businesses such as Georgia-Pacific and Walmart. Gatik’s deal with Walmart includes service to Sam’s Club locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Kroger has also tested AVs from autonomous tech company Nuro in Arizona and Houston. The moves come as the industry has pursued new kinds of deliveries through drones and roving bots smaller than the size of mini-cars.
“We’re implementing consistent, automated delivery runs,” Mike Baker, head of Final Mile for Kroger, said in a video accompanying the news release, noting the importance of repeatability and on-time performance. “We run roughly 18 to 20 hours a day. Anytime a customer wants an order, we’re there to try to deliver it to them.”