In a tough fundraising environment for technology startups, Microsoft is reportedly nearing an investment in middle-mile autonomous trucking company Gatik.
Privately held Gatik, the middle-mile developer of autonomous trucking software, last raised $85 million in a Series B round in August 2021. Gatik’s Class 3-6 driverless box trucks operate revenue-generating routes in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Ontario, Canada.
Partnership would follow Gatik’s business model
Microsoft would invest $10 million in a financing round that values Gatik at $700 million, Reuters reported Wednesday, citing two anonymous sources familiar with the discussions. Neither Microsoft nor Gatik would comment. In 2021, Microsoft invested in Cruise, the General Motors Co.-owned developer of robotaxis.
Gatik would use Microsoft’s cloud and edge-computing platform Azure in developing autonomous delivery technology for trucks, according to Reuters.
Such a partnership would be in keeping with Gatik’s asset-light approach to its subscription-based autonomy-as-a-service business model. Other partners include engine-maker Cummins Inc., Ryder System Inc. and Goodyear Tire & Rubber, the latter two of which invested in Gatik through their venture arms.
Goodyear SightLine proof of concept
Separately on Wednesday, Gatik said it has demonstrated in a proof of concept that intelligent tires powered by Goodyear SightLine technology can accurately estimate tire-road friction potential and provide real-time information to Gatik’s automated driving system.
The breakthrough increases what a tire can deliver by providing vehicle safety- and performance-enhancing data to the operational design domain of Gatik’s short-haul market. The collaboration is part of an undisclosed investment Goodyear Ventures made in Gatik in September 2021.
Goodyear SightLine measures the tire wear, load, inflation pressure and temperature. It combines that with real-time road-weather data and proprietary rubber friction models to estimate the tire-road friction potential.
“The tire is the only part of the vehicle that touches the ground, and this new level of data sophistication can communicate vital information to the vehicle, enhancing safety and performance,” Chris Helsel, Goodyear’s senior vice president global operations and chief technology officer, said in a news release.
Goodyear expects to offer SightLine technology on some original equipment vehicles as soon as this year.
Carving out middle-mile autonomy
Class 8 autonomous trucking developer Kodiak Robotics formed a similar partnership with Bridgestone Americas in June 2021. Bridgestone also made an undisclosed investment in Kodiak.
Gatik was founded in 2017 by brothers Gautam and Arjun Narang and Apeksha Kumavat. It presently is the only significant player in middle-mile business-to-business autonomous logistics. Gatik claims 10 of the Fortune 500 as customers. It counts Walmart Inc., KBX, Pitney-Bowes and Canada grocery giant Loblaw as major customers.
Startups like Nuro and GM’s BrightDrop focus on last-mile delivery. Manufacturers Daimler Truck North America, Volvo Group and Paccar Inc. partner with Torc Robotics, Alphabet’s Waymo and Aurora Innovation in developing commercialized long-haul driverless trucks.