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Gatik, a startup developing an autonomous vehicle stack for B2B short-haul logistics, today announced it has secured CAD$9 million (~$7.12 million), with CAD$1 million coming from a partnership with Ontario’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN). Gatik says the AVIN collaboration — part of an Ontario government program providing R&D, business, technical, and talent support, as well as vehicle test tracks — will help it understand how inclement weather affects its vehicles’ movements
Some experts predict the pandemic will hasten adoption of autonomous vehicles for delivery. Self-driving cars, vans, and trucks promise to minimize the risk of spreading disease by limiting driver contact. This is particularly true with regard to short-haul freight, an estimated 30% of which takes place in snowy and icy conditions. The producer price index for local truckload carriage jumped 20.4% from July to August, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most likely propelled by demand for short-haul distribution from warehouses and distribution centers to ecommerce fulfillment centers and stores.
Palo Alto, California-based Gatik, which has offices in Toronto, is the brainchild of Carnegie Mellon graduate and CEO Gautam Narang. He cofounded the company in 2017 with CTO Arjun Narang and chief engineer and former Ford computer vision lead Apeksha Kumavat.
Gatik’s platform taps level 4 autonomous vehicles (capable of operating with limited human input and oversight in specific conditions and locations, as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers) to fulfill on-demand and scheduled deliveries up to a distance of 200 miles. Its retrofitted trucks and Ford Transit 350 vans and orchestration software, which the company has been testing on public roads in California since Q1 2018, promise to transport goods around cities more affordably.
In November, Gatik announced a deal with Loblaw, Canada’s largest retailer with over 200,000 employees. For Loblaw, Gatik has been transporting “multi-temperature” goods and products from the retailer’s microfulfillment centers for inventory pooling across multiple locations, multiple times a day, to retail outposts across the Greater Toronto Area since January 2021. The program covers five routes operating 12 hours a day, seven days a week.
In July, Walmart revealed it had launched a pilot with Gatik to ferry customer orders between select store locations in Bentonville, Arkansas. Gatik’s vans transport items from a warehouse to neighborhood market stores along a two-mile route (or five-mile one-way route) in Bentonville. Each van makes up to 10 runs a day during daylight, with human backup operators behind the wheel.
More recently, Gatik received a $100,000 grant from PlanetM, a Michigan Economic Development Corporation program that seeks to fund solutions to pandemic-driven challenges in the state. In collaboration with an unnamed partner, referred to as “one of the state’s largest retailers,” Gatik says its autonomous trucks will operate on predetermined, fixed routes throughout Grand Rapids and Rochester.
Gatik says it will continue to target customers, such as third-party logistics providers (like FedEx, UPS, and USPS), consumer goods distributors, food and beverage distributors, medical and pharmaceutical distributors, and auto parts distributors, for the foreseeable future. The company has raised a total of over $38 million in venture capital.
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