Kroger enlists autonomous vehicles for middle-mile delivery

Supermarket giant plans new fulfillment service with driverless trucks from Gatik.
Gatik autonomous truck-Kroger store-Dallas
Gatik's self-driving box trucks will transport grocerie from an automated Kroger fulfillment center in Dallas to multiple stores. / Photo: Gatik

The Kroger Co. has tapped autonomous truck company Gatik for a new middle-mile logistics service in the grocer’s Dallas division distribution network.

Mountain View, California-based Gatik said Wednesday that, under a multiyear commercial agreement, its medium-duty, self-driving box trucks will transport fresh groceries—for customers at the store or ordering online—from an automated Kroger customer fulfillment center (CFC) in Dallas to multiple retail locations. Plans call for operations to get under way in the second quarter, according to Gatik.

“We are so excited to see Gatik trucks starting to deliver groceries throughout our Dallas division,” Raúl Bujalil, vice president of supply chain strategy and technology enablers at Kroger, said in a statement. “These autonomous box trucks will help us continue our commitment to creating a seamless shopping experience, where customers can access their favorite fresh foods, with zero compromise on value or convenience.”

Gatik autonomous trucks-Kroger CFC-Dallas

Gatik said its trucks will make regular delivery runs daily, seven days a week, from the fulfullment center across Kroger's Dallas distribution network. / Photo: Gatik

The Gatik autonomous trucks carry a cold chain-capable 20-foot box for transporting ambient, refrigerated and frozen products. Gatik said the trucks will make consistent, repeated delivery runs multiple times daily, seven days a week, across Kroger’s Dallas network. Benefits for Kroger customers include increased speed and responsiveness in e-commerce order fulfillment, lower costs and dedicated capacity across the supply chain’s middle mile, Gatik reported.

Kroger’s 350,000-square-foot CFC in Dallas, automated with technology from United Kingdom-based online grocer Ocado Group, became operational in July. The Dallas “hub” facility also is supported by smaller, Ocado-automated “spoke” sites in Austin, San Antonio and Oklahoma City. Overall, Cincinnati-based Kroger now has 13 spokes and seven CFCs in operation.
“Kroger’s commitment to redefining service levels for its customers through innovative technology meant that our collaboration came together very quickly,” commented Gautam Narang, co-founder and CEO of Gatik. “We’re deeply familiar with operating our autonomous fleet within the Dallas ecosystem, and we’re very excited to bring that experience to support Kroger in its mission to reshape the future of goods delivery.”
Gatik added that it provides autonomous transportation-as-a-service (ATaaS) on a daily basis for customers across multiple markets, including Arkansas and Ontario, and aims to expand its commercial presence in Texas. Several other large grocery retailers also use Gatik autonomous trucks for middle-mile logistics, including Walmart (in Bentonville, Arkansas) and its Sam’s Club warehouse club subsidiary (in Dallas-Forth Worth, as well as Loblaw Cos. (in Ontario), Canada’s biggest supermarket operator.



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