As early as next year, Walmart will be using self-driving lorries for deliveries in two American states. The American hypermarket group strongly believes in the future of autonomous vehicles.
Two set routes
In 2021, after more than a year of testing, Walmart's self-driving trucks will be allowed onto the track unsupervised. It is a collaboration with tech supplier Gatik, who will make the trucks drive a set route of about 3.5 kilometres between a warehouse and a local supermarket in Arkansas. At the moment, there is still a person physically present during each journey, in case they would need to intervene, but that will change next year.
There will also be a second route in the state of Louisiana, where self-driving refrigerated lorries will drive back and forth between a supermarket and a pick-up location for online orders. It entails a much longer ride, one of more than thirty kilometres. Initially, safety drivers will still be on board.
Walmart seems to want to use the autonomous lorries mainly for deliveries to sparsely populated states in the south of the US. The hypermarket giant stresses in a press release that the Gatik trials are just two of many test cases, intending to integrate the technology into the retailer's logistics ecosystem. Indeed, Walmart is working with a whole array of other companies on unstaffed vehicles.