SPRINGDALE, ARK. – Just a week after announcing its new Supply Chain Center, Tyson Foods Inc. announced on Sept. 6 that beginning this week it will deploy multiple refrigerated trucks equipped with autonomous technology to supplement the delivery of products to cold storage facilities and distribution centers in Northwest Arkansas. The company is partnering with Gatik AI Inc., a Silicon Valley-based logistics provider specializing in autonomous middle mile delivery with a focus on short-haul, business-to-business shipping for customers in the retail segment. Tyson said it is implementing the use of multiple trucks that are each equipped with a 26-foot, refrigerated box to ship refrigerated and frozen food products, which is part of efforts to streamline its supply chain while addressing the shortage of drivers throughout the country.

“In a nationwide truck driver shortage, these autonomous trucks are an innovative and safe way to add resources that will allow the company to elevate drivers to other transportation positions in the Tyson business, while ensuring continuous supply chain reliability,” Tyson said.

Initially, operation of the autonomous trucks will be monitored by an in-cab safety driver who can take control of the vehicle if needed. The trucks will operate 18 hours per day and Tyson said there is the potential for future expansion at its other locations.   

“At Tyson Foods, we are innovating and using automation throughout our business, including in transportation,” said Patrick Simmons, vice president of transportation for Tyson. “This partnership allows us to strategically place our drivers where they are needed most while still reliably and safely transporting protein from the plant to distribution centers.”  

Tyson said the partnership with Gatik will ensure increased asset utilization in its short-haul logistics network while achieving inventory goals and supporting its commitment to sustainability by reducing emissions and decreasing the use of fuel.

Gautam Narang, Gatik’s chief executive officer and co-founder, said the partnership with Tyson is exciting for his company as it will allow another customer to reduce costs and simplify its regional distribution network.

“This is a significant moment for Gatik as we introduce Class 7 autonomous box trucks into our fleet. Our partnership with Tyson is poised to drive long-term innovation and supply chain resiliency while delivering tangible, near-term value.”

Earlier this year, Mountain View, Calif.-based self-driving trucking company, Kodiak Robotics Inc. and C.R. England, a Salt Lake City, Utah-based transportation provider, launched a pilot program to autonomously ship Tyson Foods products between Dallas and San Antonio.