According to Bloomberg, in order to lower their shipping costs before the actual delivery to a customer takes place, Walmart is introducing robot-driven vans. The market of using driverless vehicles to transport goods from warehouse to warehouse on a fixed route is estimated by analysts to reach one trillion dollars.
There is a large demand for truck drivers, especially with the increase in e-commerce, and robots will now begin to take these roles. According to the ATC (American Truck Association), there are currently 60,000 unfilled positions.
Walmart is hoping to cut costs and increase their efficiency by using robots to transport goods between warehouses after they have experienced an increase in their online sales. This way, the company is moving the goods closer to their end destination. The robot-driven cars will not deliver directly to the customer’s door yet.
According to Molly Blakeman, spokeswoman of Walmart, the company is partnering with the self-driving vehicle startup Gatik. A two-mile route between two Walmart locations in Arkansas will be tested out by a self-driving vehicle. Robot-driven trucks eliminate the cost and difficulty of human passengers.
Blakeman said: “We are working with city and state officials to obtain the approval we need to operate and plan to start the pilot programme this summer. The aim is to learn about the logistics of adding AVs into our system, operation and process changes, and more opportunities to incorporate this emerging technology.”