Autonomous Delivery Startup Gatik Emerges From Stealth, Announces Partnership with Walmart

Autonomous Delivery Startup Gatik Emerges From Stealth, Announces Partnership with Walmart

Author: Eric Walz   

Another Silicon Valley-based autonomous vehicle startup has emerged from stealth today. Gatik, based in Palo Alto, plans to deploy a fleet of Level 4 autonomous vehicles to support short-haul logistics for business to business (B2B) cargo delivery in urban areas.

The company also announced today a partnership the world's biggest retailer Walmart, who signed on as a partner and will use Gatik's autonomous delivery vans to deliver products to customers. Walmart plans to offer same-day grocery delivery at 1,600 stores by the end of the year.

While much of the industry focuses on the movement of people with autonomous vehicles and ride-sharing, Gatik is aiming for a more efficient way to move goods, especially in dense urban areas.

The company plans to use its autonomous vehicles for urban, short-haul logistics, a sector that falls somewhere between automated highway driving semi-trucks and the recent wave of smaller, last-mile autonomous delivery vehicles that are designed to travel on sidewalks, colleges campuses and business parks.

Gatik said its targeting third-party logistics (3PL) companies, consumer goods distributors, food and beverage distributors, medical and pharmaceutical distributors and auto parts distributors as its customers.

"There is a huge gap between autonomous Class 8 big rig trucks, which can only operate on highways, and smaller automated vehicles such as sidewalk robots and Nuro vehicles, which are restricted by operation speed, capacity, distance, and the curb. Gatik fills the critical 'middle mile' part of logistics, which is only becoming more valuable as a layer in the $800B logistics ecosystem," said Reilly Brennan, Founding General Partner at Trucks Venture Capital.

"We're inspired by Gatik's vision and expertise to solve the untapped market of urban short-haul delivery logistics."

According to Gatik, urban logistics have become the most expensive part of a business' supply chain.

"We are focused on deploying autonomous commercial service at scale to address the costly, underserved middle-mile delivery for businesses" said Gautam Narang, CEO and co-founder of Gatik. "Our investors represent the best in technology, autonomy, logistics and supply chain, and our last funding round has allowed us to quickly grow and be prepared to deploy with additional customers in the coming months."

Gatlik was co-founded in 2017 by two brothers, Gautam Narang and Arjun Narang, along with Apeksha Kumavat, who severs as the company's chief engineer. Gautam serves as CEO and Arjun is the company's CTO. The three co-founders have been working together in the field of robotics, AI and machine learning for over a decade developing autonomous technology, including outdoor security robots.

The three co-founders bring their robotics and autonomous driving expertise from Carnegie Mellon, Ford, and Honda's self-driving research units. In addition to its presence in California, Gatik has an office in Toronto.

"Our team is made up of the very best minds from academia and industry," said Mr Kumavat. "Collectively, we have made critical contributions and technological breakthroughs in robotics and machine learning that has enabled us to build and launch an autonomous service that is filling a gap in the market where the vehicles are on the road (not on the sidewalk), operating on city roads, and traveling longer distances (typically up to 100 miles), and with a much higher payload."

Gatik is one of around 50 companies that was granted an autonomous vehicle testing permit by California's DMV that allows it to test its autonomous delivery vans on public roads in the state. The startup retrofitted a fleet of Ford Transit vans, which the company has been quietly testing on public roads in California since last year.

Last year, Gatik raised a $4.5 million seed round led by Innovation Endeavors, which funded the development of Gatik's technology and secured launches of additional commercial services by later this year.

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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