Japanese truckmaker Isuzu Motors has announced it has agreed to strengthen its partnership with US autonomous driving technology company Gatik, with the aim of launching a Level 4 autonomous commercial vehicle business by 2027.

California-based Gatik is a developer of autonomous driving systems and related technologies and also provides autonomous driving logistics services. It specialises in middle-mile transportation – which Isuzu describes as “medium-distance and intermediate logistics connecting individual distribution centres and stores”. The company currently offers autonomous logistics services in Arkansas in the US state of Texas and in Ontario, Canada.

Isuzu confirmed in a statement the deal will “further enhance the development of Isuzu’s North American autonomous driving business. Isuzu will invest US$30m in Gatik, forging a strong partnership between the two companies in the pursuit of realizing mobility services based on Level 4 autonomous driving”.

Isuzu said the partnership with Gatik is part of the “Isuzu Transformation – Growth to 2030 (IX)” medium- to long-term business plan it announced in April, which aims to establish three new business “pillars” to drive the company’s future growth – including autonomous driving solutions, connected services and carbon neutral solutions. It said Gatik’s technology “will help it address pressing issues facing the global trucking industry” such as the worsening driver shortage in Japan and rapidly increasing demand for delivery services in North America.

Isuzu confirmed the partnership with Gatik will initially focus on developing “middle-mile” autonomous driving services, using its F-Series medium-duty truck. The two companies plan to develop a new chassis equipped with an autonomous driving system and enhanced safety features.

Isuzu in a statement claimed Gatik is “the only company that provides autonomous middle-mile logistics services in North America, using Class 3-7 autonomous driving trucks to deliver goods safely and efficiently. The company is particularly focused on middle mile business-to-business logistics for large companies and in 2021 it successfully completed fully driverless commercial middle mile deliveries”.

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