With the passage of Senate Bill 313, Kansas has become the 25th state to allow fully autonomous vehicles to operate on public roads.
Autonomous-vehicle provider Gatik will expand operations to Kansas following the signing of Senate Bill 313 into law by Gov. Laura Kelly. According to the company, the law enables the deployment of fully autonomous trucks on public roads in the state, paving the way for improved road safety, increased product flow, lower costs and higher asset use on the supply chain.
Gatik noted that it worked closely with Walmart and key stakeholders, including the Kansas Department of Transportation, the governor’s office, leadership in the state’s House and Senate, and the Kansas Sheriffs’ Association to develop and propose legislation that prioritizes the safe and structured introduction of autonomous vehicles in the state. Before beginning operations, Gatik will collaborate with state and local authorities on education and training sessions for law enforcement and first responders as part of the company’s stakeholder engagement strategy.
“We are excited to bring our autonomous fleet to the state of Kansas, and ensure that the advantages of autonomous delivery on the middle mile can be realized by Kansans in the near-term,” said Richard Steiner, head of policy at Mountain View, Calif.-based Gatik. “We applaud Gov. Kelly for taking a proactive approach to enabling the safe deployment of autonomous vehicles, and look forward to laying down roots in the state of Kansas, creating a wealth of new jobs and delivering essential goods to Kansans with speed and efficiency.”
In 2019, Walmart and Gatik proposed legislation in Arkansas to pave the way for commercial operations to begin, and in 2020, the companies received the first approval ever granted by the Arkansas State Highway Commission to remove the safety driver from Gatik’s autonomous trucks, following 18 months of successful operations. With the passage of Senate Bill 313, Kansas has become the 25th state to allow fully autonomous vehicles to operate on public roads.
Since it began commercial operations in 2019, Gatik has achieved a 100% safety record at various operational sites in North America – including Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana and Ontario – and in 2021 became the first company to operate fully driverless commercial deliveries on a middle-mile delivery route anywhere in the world with Walmart in the retailer’s home state of Arkansas. Gatik focuses exclusively on fixed, repeatable delivery routes to maximize safety, meet consumer demand for real-time access to goods, and establish middle-mile reliability and sustainability.
The company has not as yet provided a timeline for when fully autonomous trucks will be operating on Kansas public roads.
Each week, approximately 230 million customers and members visit Walmart’s more than 10,500 stores and numerous e-commerce websites under 46 banners in 24 countries. The company employs approximately 2.3 million associates worldwide. Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.