Gatik expands autonomous box truck operations to Texas with $ 85 million in new funding – TechCrunch

In the two years since Gatik AI exited stealth, the autonomous vehicle startup has launched pilots with Walmart and Canadian retail giant Loblaw in their bid to prove that autonomous driving technology combined with box trucks is the cheap sauce. secret to transport goods over short distances. .

Now the company is expanding into Texas, its fourth market, with a new capital package. Gatik said Tuesday that it has raised $ 85 million in a Series B round led by new investor Koch Disruptive Technologies, the venture arm of Koch Industries. Existing investors Innovation Endeavors, Wittington Ventures, FM Capital, Dynamo Ventures, Trucks VC, Intact Ventures and others also participated. Gatik has raised $ 114.5 million to date.

“We are very much in expansion mode in growth mode and we felt that Koch Industries would add the most value,” said Gatik CEO and co-founder Gautam Narang in a recent interview, adding that he views the company as a strategic investor.

Gatik has been transporting merchandise as part of pilot programs for Walmart in Arkansas and Louisiana and in Ontario, Canada for Loblaw Companies Limited. Gatik also established a manufacturing partnership with Isuzu in 2020 with the goal of mass producing autonomous medium-duty trucks by early 2023.

Unlike other autonomous courier companies, Gatik doesn’t target consumers. Instead, the startup is using its autonomous trucks to transport groceries and other products from large distribution centers to retail stores. For example, Gatik uses about five box trucks to transport goods for Loblaw. On a route in Arkansas, Gatik eliminated the human safety driver, which means that some of the autonomous box trucks used to transport goods are now “driverless.” The goal is to remove security operators from all of your box trucks.

Gatik said it has opened an autonomous transportation facility in the AllianceTexas Mobility Innovation Zone, a 26,000-acre residential, mixed-use and industrial planned development in the Dallas-Fort Worth area that has been converted into a transportation and logistics hub. The company is already hauling cargo for several clients, which it declined to name. Narang said the trucks deployed in Texas are based on Isuzu platforms.

The company plans to have a presence in several cities within Texas, Narang said.

His move to Texas follows other autonomous vehicle technology companies such as Aurora, Kodiak Robotics, TuSimple and Waymo that have established themselves in the state. The decision to expand to Texas was prompted by its status as an international shipping hub, the regulatory environment that supports the testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles on public roads, and a favorable climate. Narang added that the abundance and variety of potential clients will also allow him to have a multi-tenant operation. This means that you can use the same truck throughout the day for multiple clients.

The new funds will be used to add more vehicles to its fleet of Class 3-6 multi-temperature autonomous box trucks and hire more employees, particularly in Texas. Today, Gatik’s approximately 70 employees are spread across its headquarters in Palo Alto, the engineering center in Toronto, and operations in Arkansas and Louisiana.

Narang said they plan to double the number of employees to around 150 people in the next six to nine months.

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