Gatik, a Californian startup, has received $ 85 million in a funding round led by Koch, the US conglomerate, to launch a fleet of robot trucks . These autonomous vehicles will be used to transport fixed routes. This injection of capital will also allow it to expand its operations and increase its workforce. Along with a first round of funding in November 2020, the company has already raised $ 114.5 million since its founding.
This newly created technology will handle last-mile hair deliveries . In fact, the supermarket giant, Walmart, is already one of the clients of this startup. Gatik transports consumer goods and groceries for the company in Arkansas and Louisiana. In addition, it also works for Loblaw supermarkets in Canada, for which it delivers to stores in Toronto.
Gautam Narang, CEO and co-founder of Gatik, explains that the new financing “positions us to scale well from here” , adding that “the way we see the business, the technology, the companies we work with, is a whole for that we put the key components in their place, “as Forbes states .
As explained from the firm, Gatik was founded in 2017 with the intention of leading short-distance, business-to-business (B2B) logistics for the retail industry. Today, the startup has already launched a plan to distribute goods to various companies in autonomous trucks of six to eight meters through the area of Fort Worth, a region of Texas that, by tradition, has been in business for hundreds of years. years. The purpose of this program is to use this area as a place for innovation and development.
The pandemic has fostered the growth of this sector
Although the automation of processes and logistics through robots and autonomous vehicles had already been experienced for years, it was not until the beginning of the health crisis caused by Covid-19 that it began to be implemented with force . Until now, some hint of autonomy in trucks had been found with the startup Starship Technologies, created by two founders of Skype, or with the Tesla Semi, from Elon Musk’s company. Uber tried something similar, but his endeavor did not last more than two years.
The need to reduce human contact, or the same restrictions that forced people to stay in their homes, has created a perfect ecosystem for technologies dedicated to autonomous distribution to flourish .
The use of driverless vehicles to perform tasks, which until then had to be performed by a human, began to take shape in China , when the Asian country began to use autonomous trucks to disinfect the streets during the pandemic. But this was not the only time they used automated machines to carry out a human task during the health crisis, they also created a fully automated hospital, where care was provided by robots.
In this sense, logistics and transportation services have been the fastest developing sector of the autonomous driving industry in the last two years, as the application is relatively easier than autonomous taxi services. Plus, it’s likely to generate more revenue in the coming years, according to Forbes .
This is why Gatik has been ahead of its competitors TuSimple, which focuses on long-distance routes, and Waymo, which, despite being a large company, is still in the development phase of its delivery project of half a mile.
Potential investors intend to carry out a SPAC
According to the American magazine, various potential partners have approached the startup to go public through a SPAC merger. However, Gatik has confirmed that there are no short-term plans to carry out this process , as the latest round of funding allows it to carry out its activity as planned for a period of no less than two years. Added to this factor is the notable growth in its income derived from the activity itself, which reduces the pressure of having to list its shares.
“We have significant revenue. Last year we had revenue in the millions, and this year, we project to increase that by 400% year over year,” Narang says.