Back in the summer of 2019, retail giant Walmart announced that it was to help make autonomous grocery delivery a reality. Its partner in this pilot is a company called Gatik.
In the time since its initial announcement, that pilot has racked up over 70,000 miles of combined on the road testing. That's not bad, and in fact, it's enough that Walmart and Gatik are deciding to take things to the next level by going fully driverless, according to an announcement by Walmart on Tuesday.
That pilot program involved transporting stock from what's known as a "dark store" -- aka one that's not open to customers -- to a nearby Neighborhood Market in Bentonville, Arkansas -- a distance of about 2 miles. Now the route will be traversed by specially designed box trucks with multiple temperature zones, and there will be no human safety driver on board.
The program is slated to get underway in 2021 in Arkansas, but it won't stop there. Walmart also announced plans to expand the autonomous delivery program to neighboring Lousiana, albeit with human safety drivers, at least to start with. The Louisiana route is about 20 miles in length and will run from New Orleans to Metairie.