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08/31/2022

Pitney Bowes to deploy autonomous trucks for ‘middle mile’

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Pitney Bowes Gatik partnership
Pitney Bowes is deploying autonomous trucks from Gatik (Photo: Business Wire).

A logistics service provider is preparing to deploy robotic vehicles in its supply chain.

Pitney Bowes will integrate class 6 autonomous box trucks from Gatik into its e-commerce logistics network in the Dallas network beginning in the first quarter of 2023. The Gatik vehicles are specifically built for the middle mile – the point in the supply chain where goods travel between warehouses or from a warehouse to a “last mile” pickup point, such as a store or sortation center).

Leveraging the autonomous vehicles, Pitney Bowes will establish a continuous, operational loop across its e-commerce logistics network in Dallas, making multiple deliveries per day with what the company hopes will be enhanced speed and efficiency.

During the initial phase, a safety operator will occupy the autonomous vehicles to monitor performance. Data collected from each delivery will be used to improve network design and identify additional opportunities for cost savings and service improvements, as Pitney Bowes looks to integrate autonomous vehicles across its national e-commerce logistics network.

By deploying the Gatik robotic trucks in its middle mile, Pitney Bowes aims to establish a more responsive and flexible logistics network by delivering elevated service levels and reliability, improving speed of deliveries, and providing end-to-end visibility while lowering transportation costs.

Pitney Bowes also hopes that deploying Gatik’s autonomous middle mile solution will help it to future-proof logistics operations, increase asset utilization, and support a shift to a more direct, high-frequency transportation network.

“Our partnership with Gatik promotes growth and accelerates the modernization and expansion of our network with technology solutions that are redefining ecommerce logistics,” said Stephanie Cannon, SVP, Head of Global Platform and Network, Pitney Bowes. “Gatik’s flexible and responsive logistics network enables us to tailor our designed delivery services to provide shippers with unmatched solutions. Pitney Bowes and Gatik’s innovative strategies align to remove cost and complexity from ecommerce logistics to better serve our clients.”

“Our partnership with Pitney Bowes reinforces the intense demand we are seeing for autonomous trucks that can operate within urban and semi-urban environments,” said Gautam Narang, CEO and co-founder, Gatik. “We’re excited to help Pitney Bowes accelerate the transformation of their supply chain by establishing a safe, secure and hyper-responsive autonomous delivery service in the greater-Dallas area.”

Walmart makes middle mile history with Gatik

Pitney Bowes is following in the footsteps of Walmart, which is the first company to use autonomous delivery trucks with no safety driver in the middle mile of its supply chain. In November 2021, the discount giant began using multi-temperature autonomous box trucks from  Gatik to move online grocery orders from a fulfillment-only dark store to a nearby Walmart Neighborhood Market store in its headquarters city of Bentonville, Ark.  

According to Gatik, its deployment with Walmart in Arkansas represents the first time that an autonomous trucking company has removed the safety driver from a commercial delivery route on the middle mile anywhere in the world. 

The two companies initially launched a pilot of driverless deliveries on a two-mile route between the dark store and local Neighborhood Market store in Bentonville in July 2019. Walmart is making the autonomous deliveries without having a human safety driver in the truck.