Walmart said Monday it has started using fully driverless trucking in its online grocery business, aiming to increase capacity and reduce inefficiencies.

Walmart and Silicon Valley start-up Gatik said that, since August, they’ve operated two autonomous box trucks — without a safety driver — on a 7-mile loop daily for 12 hours. The Gatik trucks are loaded with online grocery orders from a Walmart fulfillment center called a “dark store.” The orders are then taken to a nearby Walmart Neighborhood Market grocery store in Bentonville, Arkansas, where Walmart is headquartered.

The program began in December 2020 after getting approval from the Arkansas State Highway Commission. The safety driver was pulled over the summer. The partnership is focused on the so-called middle mile — the transport of goods within the supply chain most often from a warehouse to a fulfillment center or a warehouse to a retailer.

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