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Gatik, the RBR50 company developing Level 4 autonomous vehicles for B2B short-haul, middle-mile logistics, raised $25 million in Series A funding. Founded in 2017, Gatik has raised a total of $29.5 million.
Gatik will use the funding to expand its operations across North America, its team in Silicon Valley and its growing presence in Canada. The Series A was co-led by Wittington Ventures and Innovation Endeavors, with participation from FM Capital and Intact Ventures. Existing investors like Dynamo Ventures, Fontinalis Partners, AngelPad and others participated as well.
Gatik is using a variety of autonomous vehicles in its fleet, restricting those vehicles to fixed, repeatable routes. Gatik CEO and co-founder Gautam Narang recently told The Robot Report Level 5 autonomous vehicles won’t be here anytime soon. Gatik’s approach is to eliminate as much uncertainty from their routes as possible.
Its vehicles are often restricted to the right-most lane too, similar to UPS’ approach. Staying in the right lane helps Gatik avoid changing multiple lanes and unprotected left turns, the latter of which is one of the harder maneuvers for autonomous vehicles. Gatik also avoids routes that drive by fire stations, hospitals and schools due to unpredictability.
“The routes are all driven by customer requests,” Narang recently told us. “We look at their operation and run simulations to see if there’s anything we should avoid. We study driving patterns and traffic data. We also have multiple routes to connect each node in case of heavy traffic or road closures. We don’t have to have the fastest or shortest route. We choose the route that’s safest and easiest for the technology.”
Gatik said it is now operating its autonomous vehicles up to 7 days a week, 12 hours a day, on single routes up to 300 miles. To date, Gatik said it has completed over 30,000 revenue-generating autonomous orders for multiple Fortune 500 customers in the US and Canada. Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, has been a customer since June 2019.
Gatik launching Canada’s first autonomous vehicle fleet
Gatik also announced a multi-year deal with Loblaw, the largest supermarket chain in Canada with 2,400-plus locations. Starting in January 2021, five of Gatik’s Level 4 Ford Transit 350 autonomous box trucks will transport goods from an automated picking facility to retail locations across the Greater Toronto Area.
This deployment marks the first autonomous delivery fleet in Canada. The vehicles will operate up to 7 days a week, 12 hours a day, on 5 routes on public roads with fixed pick-up and drop-off locations. All vehicles will have a safety driver.
“As more Canadians turn to online grocery shopping, we’ve looked at ways to make our supply chain more efficient. Middle-mile autonomous delivery is a great example,” said Lauren Steinberg, Senior Vice President, Loblaw Digital. “With this initial roll-out in Toronto, we are able to move goods from our automated picking facility multiple times a day to keep pace with PC Express online grocery orders in stores around the city.”
Narang was a recent guest on The Robot Report Podcast. We discussed the development of Gatik’s Level 4 autonomous vehicles, how Gatik landed a partnership with Walmart while in stealth mode, the changing investment landscape around autonomous vehicles and why level 5 autonomy is at least 10-15 years away. You can listen to the interview below, starting at the 24-minute mark.