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Thursday, June 20, 2019

Wal-Mart Tests Autonomous Vans for Middle-Mile

Not fully autonomous, and with fixed routes,  will this simplify the approach and make it safe enough to decrease on-road issues in the early days of on road autonomy?

Will autonomous vans help Walmart win the middle mile logistics race?
by George Anderson in Retailwire  with further expert comment.

It’s pretty common to hear retailers talking about the need to own the last mile, with many taking a variety of approaches to effectively and efficiently handle the transfer of purchased goods to the customer. You can safely count Walmart among that group, but in an interesting twist, the retailer is taking part in a test of autonomous vans to transfer goods from one warehouse to another or to a store or other pickup point. The goal is to reduce costs in the so-called middle miles while moving packages to their ultimate destination.

The robo-vans being used by Walmart, according to Bloomberg’s reporting, follow fixed routes to reduce the risk of accidents and to keep operating in continual service. Human drivers are currently still behind the wheel on many of the test routes, so new processes for loading vehicles or navigation are not yet needed.

Walmart is working with Gatik, a two-year-old startup focused on short-haul logistics for business-to-business operations. Earlier this month, the company announced it had secured $4.5 million in funding and brought Walmart on as a customer.... " 

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