Autonomous vehicle startup Gatik announced today that it has raised a $25 million Series A round of funding. The round was co-led by Wittington Ventures and Innovation Endeavors with participation from FM Capital and Intact Ventures, as well as existing investors Dynamo Ventures, Fontinalis Partners, AngelPad and others. This brings the total amount raised by Gatik to $29.5 million.
Unlike other players in the self-driving delivery space, the Palo Alto, California-based Gatik is focused on the middle-mile — that is, the intra-location routes for a business, for example warehouse to store, store to store, etc.
The advantage of this, from a self-driving vehicle perspective, is that these middle-mile routes are fixed and repeated. This reduces the amount of “thinking” that a self-driving vehicle has to do as it carries goods around because it’s not encountering as many new scenarios. These fixed routes can also help put regulators creating laws around self-driving vehicles more at ease because of their limited scope and reach.
From a business’ perspective, like a grocer, a fleet of autonomous middle-mile vehicles could run all day, every day, ensuring that locations are always fully stocked. In its press announcement, Gatik said that its autonomous vehicles are operating up to seven days a week, 12 hours a day, on single routes up to 300 miles.
Along with its funding announcement, Gatik today also announced that Canada’s Loblaw grocery chain will deploy a fleet of five Gatik vehicles for middle mile delivery in Toronto starting in January 2021. Gatik’s cargo trucks feature temperature control, so they can be used for the transport of cold and frozen foods as well.
In the Loblaw press announcement, Gatik said that its autonomous vehicles will run between automated picking facilities and retail stores, and allows for inventory pooling across multiple location, as well as contactless delivery.
November has been a busy month for autonomous delivery. Last week Walmart announced a partnership with Cruise for self-driving grocery delivery. Nuro announced it had raised another $500 million for its self-driving pod vehicle solution. Part of the reason for all of this is the COVID-19 pandemic, which has accelerated interest in contactless delivery options to reduce human-to-human interaction.
Gatik has previously worked with Walmart, and says it has conducted 30,000 autonomous orders for multiple Fortune 500 customers across North America.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post said Gatik raised $22.5 million. We regret the error.