Food giant Tyson Foods Inc. will deploy autonomous refrigerated box trucks to bolster its routes in Northwest Arkansas, through a multi-year collaboration with Gatik AI Inc., a provider of autonomous middle mile logistics.
The collaboration will begin this week, including a safety driver who will initially be present in the cab to monitor the autonomous system and take command of operating the truck if required. According to Tyson, the move is a way to ensure continuous supply chain reliability during a nationwide truck driver shortage, while it elevates drivers to other transportation positions in the Tyson business.
The autonomous Class 7 trucks are equipped with a 26-foot temperature-controlled box purpose-built to transport refrigerated and frozen goods, equipped with sensors that are designed for fail-safe, short-haul, business to business (B2B) operations.
Specifically, the deployment will introduce Gatik trucks equipped with commercial-grade autonomous technology to the Tyson supply chain, operating on predetermined short-haul, repeated routes to support fast and efficient product flow from plant to storage facilities. Operating 18 hours a day, trucks will deliver brands such as Tyson, Jimmy Dean, and BallPark to the company’s distribution and storage facilities in the Rogers and Springdale, Arkansas areas.
Neither the terms of the deal nor the number of autonomous trucks were disclosed.
Tyson said the partnership is expected to provide increased asset utilization within its short-haul logistics network, assist with inventory objectives, support a transition to a more responsive and high-frequency approach to goods movement, and reduce vehicle emissions through increased efficiency.