Partnering for Self-Driving Trucks and Better B-to-b Deliveries

·3 min read

With the nation’s labor shortage, growing consumer demand for goods and Christmas approaching, packages are piling up and timely deliveries are questionable.

But two companies involved in logistics and transportation, Ryder System Inc. and Gatik, have formed a multiyear partnership designed to establish an autonomous logistics network for Gatik’s retail customers.

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Ryder System is widely known as Ryder and for its rental trucks. Gatik is a relatively new company for automated, self-driving trucks handling short-haul, middle-mile logistics.

Gatik has raised $85 million in Series B funding which includes an investment from Ryder’s corporate venture capital fund, RyderVentures. Ryder aims to invest in and partner with early-stage companies that are developing technologies and business models that deliver advancements and automation in the logistics and transportation industries. The funding represents Ryder’s first investment in an autonomous trucking company.

The partnership also enables Gatik to lease from Ryder a fleet of medium-duty, multi-temperature box trucks designed to transport goods to retail locations from micro-fulfillment centers or distribution centers that cater exclusively to e-commerce. Gatik will integrate its autonomous driving technology into the leased fleet, enabling Gatik to provide its service to new and existing customers. Gatik has about 20 trucks deployed in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Ontario and is testing more in California.

In addition to providing the leased vehicles, Ryder will service and maintain the trucks, including calibration of autonomous vehicle sensors and inspections.

In their announcement Tuesday, the companies said they will explore opportunities for Ryder to manage the logistics operations of the autonomous fleet as well, allowing Gatik to focus on its business model and manage relationships with its customers.

“This partnership enables us to benefit from Ryder’s world-class expertise in commercial vehicle servicing and maintenance, and leverage Ryder’s national infrastructure to expand our fleet to multiple markets quickly,” said Gautam Narang, cofounder and chief executive officer of Gatik. “Ryder has consistently demonstrated commitment to innovation and serving their customers’ needs — core principles that resonated deeply with us.”

The goal of the partnership is to “expand quickly across the U.S. and Canada, with the initial focus on the Dallas-Fort Worth area.”

“One of our focus areas, not only for RyderVentures but for Ryder as a company, is on autonomous trucking technology. It’s on track to solve a host of industry pain points. Think about ever-escalating consumer demands combined with capacity constraints, driver shortages and regulatory and safety pressures,” Karen Jones, chief marketing officer and head of new product development for Ryder, said in a statement. “Gatik’s commitment to safety, focus on efficiency and affordability, and unique approach to structured autonomy make it a leader in autonomous middle-mile delivery — and a great partner for Ryder.”

Ryder provides a range of services including providing leasing, rental and maintenance of trucks, drivers, freight brokerage, warehousing, distribution, e-commerce fulfillment and last-mile deliveries. Ryder manages nearly 235,000 commercial vehicles and operates more than 300 warehouses encompassing approximately 64 million square feet.

Gatik has a fleet of light and medium-duty trucks. The company focuses on short-haul, business-to-business logistics for retailers, and cites Walmart and Loblaw as clients. Gatik’s autonomous trucks are commercially deployed in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Ontario. Founded in 2017 by veterans of the autonomous technology industry, the company has offices in Mountain View, Calif. and Toronto.

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