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Oct. 6, 2022

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A self-driving truck will soon deliver goods to 34 Sam’s Club locations in Dallas-Fort Worth

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A California-based autonomous trucking company will begin making deliveries to 34 Sam’s Club locations in Dallas-Fort Worth, beginning in July.

Gatik will operate autonomous 26-foot box trucks in North Texas seven days a week as part of the Georgia-Pacific and KBX Logistics transportation network. Gatik is replacing traditional tractor-trailers with non-detachable box trucks, a move it said will increase delivery route sequences and reduce costs.

The trucks will carry Georgia-Pacific brands like Quilted Northern bath tissue and Dixie products to Sam’s Clubs.

Gatik opened a trucking facility in Fort Worth a year ago to serve as its Texas hub. It pledged to create over 500 jobs by 2025.

Gautam Narang, CEO and co-founder of Gatik, described the partnership in a statement as a way to transform regional distribution of goods from semitruck deliveries to one “with unparalleled reliability, speed and consistency.”

The number of product fulfillment runs will increase from once or twice a week to two to four times a week, said Richard Steiner, Gatik’s head of policy and communications.

“We’re going to help to ensure [fewer] out-of-stocks and much more availability and enhanced product flow for Georgia-Pacific’s consumers,” Steiner said.

Initially, Gatik trucks will operate with a safety driver aboard, but it plans to eventually remove the driver. Gatik began testing the technology with Walmart, the parent company of Sam’s Club, in December 2020 on a seven-mile loop in Bentonville, Ark.

Texas is now a key state for self-driving truck experimentation. In April, California-based self-driving trucking company Kodiak Robotics Inc. partnered with carrier fleet U.S. Xpress to launch an autonomously operated cargo service between Dallas-Fort Worth and Atlanta. TuSimple and Waymo are also conducting tests in the Dallas area.

It’s a large market to enter, and Gatik expects to add local staff, Steiner said. A medium-duty Gatik truck operates over 20 hours a day, seven days a week. Steiner said each truck will average three runs a day, 50 miles each way.

“It’s something which is new for the space, and we’re excited to be doing it first here in Texas,” Steiner said.

The trucking industry has faced a driver shortage that the pandemic exacerbated. Walmart said in April that it was raising pay for its private fleet of 12,000 truck drivers, including nearly 2,000 in Texas. The company also launched a fleet development program to train the next generation of drivers at a new facility in Dallas.

Walmart truck drivers can now make up to $110,000 in their first year with the company.

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