It’s not often that the scariest headlines of the morning involve… supply chains — but that’s what we woke up to this morning. President Biden announced a plan to have some West Coast ports work 24/7, while Walmart, FedEx and UPS are also expanding hours to free up bottlenecks in said scary looking supply chains.
Look, solving global supply chain issues is a big, complex problem. So I’m really not trying to be reductionist here, but as Steve Crowe from the Robot Report posted to Linkedin (see↓): Where are the autonomous trucks when we need em?
This morning’s news made me naturally think of Gatik and it’s autonomous middle-mile delivery trucks. At the risk of sounding biased, I love Gatik. I’m not a big supply chain or logistics guy, but I love the simplicity of the company’s mission.
Gatik is basically trying to create an autonomous conveyor belt using self-driving box trucks to move food (and other goods) in between two points of the same business. Think: distribution center to store, or store to store, or warehouse to distribution center — you get the idea.
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Trucks just carry goods back and forth between those fixed locations. Because those locations are fixed, and the trucks follow the same route back and forth, Gatik will have an easier time bringing its self-driving truck technology to public roads. Driving the same route keeps trucks mostly out of residential neighborhoods and reduces the number of variables an autonomous driving system has to deal with. Because of this, regulators are more likely to give Gatik trucks the greenlight.
But as an OttOmate reader you know all that.
Gatik’s self-driving system also means that it can run its trucks around the clock (or 24/7 to borrow from today’s headlines). This, of course, can help ease supply chain bottlenecks because they are moving goods through the supply chain all the time. Self-driving trucks can also alleviate the truck driver shortage the country is currently experiencing. And, not for nothing, self-driving trucks might actually be safer at night because a human isn’t at the wheel when they should be asleep.
While it’s not big enough to solve our current supply crunch, Gatik is ramping up its operations. The company raised an $85 million Series B round in August. Tire company Goodyear was part of that round and is collaborating with Gatik to add data from the Internet of Tires to its self-driving technology.
With supply chains gobbling up headlines I imagine Gatik, Udelv and other companies in the autonomous middle mile delivery space are revving up their pitch decks engines to get while the gettin’s good. So I wouldn’t be surprise to see some hefty investment headlines in the space in the coming months.