The growth of e-commerce and rapid rise in consumer expectations around selection, cost, and convenience have left many businesses scrambling. To better serve their customers, they must keep a wide range of inventory distributed across the urban landscape — a massively costly endeavor given that demand is unpredictable and deliveries are small but frequent; not to mention dealing with reverse logistics.
There have been numerous forays aiming to apply autonomy to logistics, but all leave a critical gap. Autonomous trucks can decrease long-haul freight costs, but aren’t of use in urban environments. Small-format road or sidewalk robots may one day bring packages to our curbside, but their size and speed mean that they are likely not economical for B2B use cases (not to mention the immense challenge of autonomously navigating around a city safely). How can retailers solve this problem of the “middle mile”?
Today, we are excited to announce our investment Gatik, a B2B logistics company using autonomous light class trucks and vans. Gatik vehicles will ferry goods and components to and from distribution centers, stores, and access points for both forward and reverse logistics. By operating on fixed routes and schedules, they constrain their environment so can get to market much more quickly; their modular, hybrid deep learning and classical robotics approach means their autonomy can be both safe and scalable.
Behind this approach is a phenomenal team. Gautam Narang, Arjun Narang, and Apeksha Kumavat are graduates from Carnegie Mellon and Purdue University; they have worked at Ford, Carnegie Robotics, and Honda, and built autonomous robots that rove on the Moon, inspect bridges, and map mines. We are excited to partner with them, as well as our friends at AngelPad, Trucks VC, Dynamo VC and Fontinalis, as they work towards their vision of more efficient and safer urban logistics. If you’re working to transform the biggest problems in supply chain and logistics, we would love to hear from you!