Self-Driving Trucks on Kansas’s Road, Governor Signs Bill

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CEM REPORT | Kansas State officials in the United State of America, has given a go-ahead for Autonomous delivery truck startup Gatik and its partner and customer Walmart Inc (WMT.N) to put its box trucks on the road.

According Reuters, Gatik announced this on Thursday after Kansas Governor Laura Kelly on Friday signed into law a bill permitting use of driverless vehicles in the state without a human safety driver behind the wheel.

Gatik’s head of policy, Richard Steiner, told Reuters in an interview the company would be “getting our trucks on the road now” in Kansas, but declined to comment on whether they would be making deliveries for Walmart or any other customer.

According to Richard Steiner, many conversations had been held over the last year involving Gatik and Walmart with Kansas legislators and law enforcement officials. The Teamsters union, a trial lawyers and a Kansas workers’ group who had opposed the bill, citing issues such as insurance and liability requirements,

The Teamsters in a statement said the bill was rushed through, and that it allowed autonomous vehicles to operate “recklessly, risking the lives of our friends and neighbors, and upending the workforce as we know it.”

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Reuters said Walmart did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Kansas law, which sets minimal operating requirements, such as insurance limits and the capability to move onto the road’s shoulder in case of a vehicle malfunction. Self-driving companies also must test with a human driver for 12 months before going autonomous, the bill says.

Walmart already works with Gatik in Arkansas and Louisiana, where Gatik offers short-haul deliveries in box trucks. The companies last year removed safety drivers from a delivery route in Arkansas, running fully autonomous.

“It was really important for us as we look to scale nationally that the states that have been silent on autonomous vehicles are being brought into line with the more progressive states,” Steiner said.

A majority of U.S. states have either enacted autonomous driving bills by law or executive order, but permit varying degrees of automation under different rules.

This is due to many concerns and questions bordering engineering challenges, capital requirements, regulatory issues and liability questions, these are immense,

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