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Autonomous vehicle technology developer Gatik has reached a strategic lease and vehicle maintenance agreement with Ryder System and possibly a logistics operations management deal down the road.
Ryder (NYSE: R), which offers dedicated transportation solutions as well as vehicle lease and maintenance services, will lease a fleet of medium-duty, multi-temperature box trucks to Gatik for use in Gatik's expanding autonomous fleet. Gatik will outfit the vehicles with its self-driving technology that backbones its autonomous delivery as a service (ADaaS) model. In addition, Ryder will maintain the vehicles, including calibration of its autonomous vehicle sensors and necessary pre-trip and post-trip inspections.
"The combination of maintaining direct relationships with customers while being asset light has never been achieved in the autonomous trucking industry before," said Gautam Narang, CEO and co-founder of Gatik. "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. Ryder has consistently demonstrated commitment to innovation and serving their customers' needs – core principles that resonated deeply with us."
The two companies will explore additional opportunities, including the possibility of Ryder managing the logistics operations of Gatik's autonomous fleet so Gatik can focus on development of the ADaas platform.
In August, Gatik announced the closing of an $85 million Series B round of funding. One of the investors in that round was Ryder Ventures, Ryder's venture capital fund.
"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," said Karen Jones, chief marketing officer and head of new product development for Ryder. "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."
The oversubscribed funding round was led by new investor Koch Disruptive Technologies (KDT) with participation from existing investors Innovation Endeavours, Wittington Ventures, FM Capital, Dynamo Ventures, Trucks VC, and Intact Ventures. Goodyear Ventures, Goodyear's (NASDAQ: GT) venture capital fund, participated in the new funding round as well. Gatik will utilize tires equipped with Goodyear's tire intelligence technology powered by Goodyear SightLine. SightLine collects data on tires and communicates tire health back to users.
Gatik's partnership with Ryder will enable its growing customer base to benefit from the scale and expertise Ryder offers. The initial focus of the agreement will be in the Dallas-Fort Worth area before expanding across the U.S. and Canada.
Gatik recently joined the AllianceTexas Mobility Innovation Zone (MIZ) in Texas. That program leverages a purpose-built industrial development in North Texas as a hub of supply chain innovation. The development plays host to a number of companies, including autonomous vehicle developer TuSimple, drone companies, and railroads. All the companies participating in the program are involved in moving live freight.
Gatik has been running pilot programs with Walmart (NYSE: WMT) in Arkansas and New Orleans and with Loblaw Cos. (TSX: L) in Ontario, Canada. In Arkansas, Gatik's autonomous vehicles move items along a 2-mile route from a Walmart dark store (a store that stocks items for fulfillment but isn't open to the public) to a Walmart neighborhood market in Bentonville.
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