This robo-van startup will handle Walmart’s “middle mile” | Ars…

This robo-van startup will handle Walmart’s “middle mile” | Ars Technica

Walmart will use robo-vans from 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 3 of its modified Ford Transit Connect vans in this “middle mile” logistics scheme, making up to 10 runs a day, 7 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.

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