Because of all that Arkansas has to offer, we are actively seeking US and international companies to invest in our state. During my recent trip to Israel, I was able to meet President Isaac Herzog and talk about my initiative for the growth of computer and technology businesses in our state. I also met Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. The Prime Minister spoke about Israel’s defense system known as the Iron Dome and how the work in Camden, Arkansas is helping protect Israelis from rocket attacks and saving the lives of millions. of people.
I also spoke at the Prime Minister’s Smart Mobility Summit, which brought together business leaders, innovators and policymakers from around the world for a global dialogue on the future of transport. While I was there, I got to talk about the economic success we have in our state. One company that truly embodies the Arkansan spirit is Walmart, founded right here in the Natural State, and thanks to the vision and daring of Sam Walton, he turned a store into America’s largest retailer.
And at the Mobility Summit, I was proud to announce a new partnership between Walmart and a company called Gatik. With their new partnership, they will deploy the world’s first driverless autonomous delivery service. Gatik now operates daily in Bentonville, without a security driver on board the vehicle. This is the first time that fully autonomous operations have been carried out on the “Middle Mile,” a term to describe the movement of goods from warehouses or micro-distribution centers to a pickup location such as a retail store. .
After two years of testing, Walmart and Gatik take to the streets of Northwest Arkansas to demonstrate the next big logistics solution. All of this was made possible by our state legislators who had the foresight to pave the way for this innovation. In 2019, I signed a law to allow autonomous vehicle testing in a controlled and regulated manner. Since the start of the pilot program, Gatik’s self-contained box trucks have been transporting goods to Bentonville.
The complex city route required vehicles to navigate safely at intersections, traffic lights, and blend into a dense city road at speeds of up to 45 mph. In December 2020, Gatik submitted the documentation of 18 months of successful operation. They then received the very first approval for fully autonomous operations in the state. In other words, Gatik could drive his vehicles without a security driver on board, which was required until then.
The hope of these tests is to truly unlock the benefits of self-delivery for Walmart customers, enabling speed and choice over how customers access goods and a company’s responsiveness to fulfill orders online. . With companies like Walmart and Gatik pushing the boundaries of business and expansion, Arkansas will continue to become a world-class hub for new technologies.