Walmart’s autonomous trucks are already running without a safety driver [FILM].

The conglomerate is moving forward with automating some part of its logistics operations and will test self-driving trucks without safety drivers starting today.

While many companies around the world are currently testing autonomous vehicles, only a handful boast permission to test without a safety driver present to take control of the vehicle if necessary. Walmart is now joining that ranks, having announced that it will soon launch such tests on a portion of its supply chain in Arkansas. Of course, this is the next step, as previously the company’s trucks, for which the startup Gatik is responsible, have been driven long enough with a safety driver and have apparently been doing great, since they will enjoy full autonomy next year.

So it looks like the way we deliver products from point A to point B is changing faster than we expected. Of course, the coronavirus pandemic is not insignificant here, having sped everything up considerably, but companies have already been looking to modernize their deliveries – just think of drones from Amazon or Domino’s pizza delivery robots. Interestingly, Walmart has also tried drones, as it and Zipline have been testing fast hourly deliveries of health category products, as well as autonomous grocery delivery pods from Nuro. And when it comes to autonomous cars, the corporation has also partnered with Ford, Cruise and the aforementioned Gatik.

The latter partnership began last July, when Gatik began testing its autonomous cars with various retailers, including Walmart. That’s when the startup’s trucks began moving autonomously along a 3.2-mile stretch between the Walmart Neighborhood Market in Bentonville, Arkansas and one of its fulfillment centers. According to Walmart, the trucks have traveled more than 70,000 miles autonomously so far, during which, however, they were always accompanied by a safety driver overseeing the entire process. Now it is time for the next phase, namely driving without a human on board, which will begin next year.

The company also intends to extend the tests to another route, a 32-kilometer one in Louisiana, which will also serve other purposes. It’s supposed to transport goods from one of the company’s larger stores to a pick-up point for customers – those tests next year, too, but in this case with a safety driver.

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