Autonomous vehicle startup Gatik AI emerges from stealth; partners with Walmart

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According to TechCrunch, an autonomous vehicle startup called Gatik AI has come out of stealth with $4.5 million in funding.

Operating out of Palo Alto, California and Toronto, Canada, Gatik AI, which has already partnered with Walmart, and is launching a service with Walmart in the coming weeks, wants to use autonomous light-commercial trucks and vans to perform short hauls of goods between businesses.

“There is a huge gap between autonomous Class 8 big rig trucks, which can only operate on highways, and smaller automated vehicles such as sidewalk robots and Nuro vehicles, which are restricted by operation speed, capacity, distance, and the curb,” explains Reilly Brennan, founding general partner at Trucks Venture Capital, one of the investors during this funding round.

“Gatik fills the critical ‘middle mile’ part of logistics, which is only becoming more valuable as a layer in the $800 billion logistics ecosystem.”

Gatik AI co-founder and CEO Gautam Narang tells TechCrunch that the Ford transit vehicles equipped with Gatik AI’s self-driving system will drive up to 200 miles a day and stay within a city environment. Narang believes the company can close the gap in the market through a variety of use cases, including partnering with the likes of Amazon, Fed Ex, or consumer goods, food and beverage distributors.

“There’s a huge push, where these companies are trying to build micro-fulfillment centers close to the customer,” Narang says. “So moving goods from a warehouse to these micro centers is one of the use cases that we’re targeting. This is perfect for scaling and commercialization of autonomous technology.”

Co-founded by Narang and his brother Arjun Narang, who is CTO, and chief engineer Apeksha Kumavat, Gatik AI has been testing its autonomous vehicle technology on public roads in California for approximately a year and a half. The three believe that if scaled, their autonomous vehicle technology and approach can not only reduce the cost of last-mile delivery for businesses by 50 percent, but also improve safety.